January, 2003 

This page is written monthly by Harumi Okochi,
and sometimes Harumi's friends join.
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Year of Sheep


"Akemashite Omedetou Gozaimasu!"
This is what we say to each other when we meet first time in the new year.

Are you interested in Japanese Oshogatsu, which means New Year Season?
Let me tell you how we enjoy Oshogatsu.

Kadomatsu and the flag
We put a set of Kadomatsu at our front door.
Gardeners made Kadomatsu for us on the last day of the year.
They use bamboo, pine, plum, orange, etc.
This is to welcome the new year into our door.
We raise the National Flag too.

Above the front door, we hang this.
It is made with straw, and some decorations.
This is to purify the house.


Inside the house, we decorate it.
These are big rice cakes, with decorations as good luck charms.
This is to wish prosperity, health and happiness for us all..


In the new year morning, all the family members gather and say "Akemashite Omedetou Gozaimasu" to each other. And we drink Otoso, that is a kind of herb-sake. This is to wish health and long life to each other.


This is a gift of money which elder people give to their juniors at Oshogatsu.
We use a small envelope to put the money in.
Children are most happy with much money.

Mothers teach their kids to say, "Akemashite Omedetou Gozaimasu" to elder relatives, and then , if kids get Otoshidama, they should say "Arigatou Gozaimasu".
Some kids get confused, and say, "Arigatou Gozaimasu" even before the seniors hand out Otoshidama.
Mom is embarrassed!

Osechi Ryori

The wooden, lacquered boxes are called Jyubako.
In Jyubako, there are many kinds of new year cuisines, Osechi Ryori.
Housewives are busy preparing Osechi Ryori two or three days before New year. And for the first three days of the new year, wives do not do much cooking.
We used to eat Osechi Ryori for two or three days in the new year. But these days, restaurants are open even on January 1.

Ayano Kihara, age 3, is so happy in her new Kimono.
Her sister Ruka, age 2, will get her Kimono next year.

Koma Mawashi
Boys' game at Oshogatsu.
Koma is Japanese top.


Girls' game at Oshogatsu.
Hagoita is the racket with beautiful pictures.
Hane is a tiny ball with feathers.
We hit Hane with the Hagoita.
It is like badminton.

Kites are also games of boys and fathers.

Japanese card games.
To win the game, you have to memorize 100 Tanka poems of many hundred years ago.


Going to three shrines in a day.
Or you can go to three Buddhism temples.
To pray for the safety and happiness of all the family members.

at Karatsu Tenmangu Shrine
On the night of January 7, Karatsu Tenmangu Shrine holds the traditional event called Onjya-Onjya.
We burn our Shimenawas, Kadomatsus, and the decorations of Kagamimochi.
Fire purifies everything, and we will be safe all this year.

I would like to extend my best wishes for your happiness and safety, health, and peace of this year!
Akemashite Omedetou Gozaimasu!.


Thank you very much for visiting this page.
I hope you will return next month.
Yours, Harumi Okochi
Proprietress of Ryokan Yoyokaku

  Mail to Harumi Okochi