Although the first couple weeks of 2021 have been kind of lousy for us all, I wanted to take a moment to say “happy new year!” to you all.
In Japanese, people greet one another the first time they meet after the new year with a special greeting. First, people say to one another akemashite omedetō (gozaimasu) which means “congratulations on the conclusion of the (old) year”. This is then followed by kotoshi mo yoroshiku (onegaishimasu). This is literally means “please be kind to me this year, too”. The words in parentheses are for polite conversation (drop them when speaking among friends).
This year with lockdown and such, we couldn’t do much for New Years. We didn’t risk going to our usual Buddhist temple for hatsumōde, the first temple visit of the year. Maybe we’ll make up for it later in the year, but we’ll see.
Instead, I celebrated as much as I could online.
There is one additional tradition that happens on the 11th of January called kagami-biraki (鏡開き), which means “breaking the mirror (mochi). Originally this was observed on the 20th day of the new year, but at some point moved to the 11th. After breaking open the kagami-mochi (more on that here) you then cook the rice cakes with sweet red beans (azuki) in a kind of red bean “stew” desert.
Since our kagami–mochi is plastic, it opens at the bottom revealing the real mochi rice cake inside. I tend to keep the little plastic daidai (bitter orange) too just because they are cute.
In any case after crazy holidays and a crazy end of the year in genera, we are hoping things will gradually calm down in the following days, weeks. I hope you all have a better year ahead too. 🎍
akemashite omedetō gozaimasu!kotoshi mo yoroshiku onegaishimasu!