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Japanese New Year
Japanese New Year
The Japanese New Year is (Obviously) an annual celebration with it's own unique customs with busy days, Mostly the day prior which is known as Omisoka. New Years in Japan has been celebrated since roughly 1873 according to the Gregorian calendar on the first of January. Okinawan culture new year is currently still celebrated as the contemporary Chinese, Korean and Vietnamese New Years.

Before the Meiji period, The date of the New Years in Japan was based upon the Chinese lunar calender as well as the contemporary Chinese, Korean and Vietnamese New year. In 1873 however, Roughly five years after the Meiji Restoration, Japan adopted the Gregorian Calendar and the first day of January became the official New Years day for most of the culture, However in the Ryuku Islands a separate cultural New Year is still celebrated based on the Chinese lunar calender.

Celebrating the New Year in Japan is also special because not only because of the start of a new year but also because they celebrate all the firsts of the year as well. Hatsuhinode (初日の出) is the first sunrise of the year. Before Hatsuhinode people will often dive into the coast or climb a mountain so they can witness this event, Going to great lengths just to see the first sunrise of their New Year.

Hatsumōde is the first trip to a shrine or temple and many people visit a shrine after midnight on December thirty-first and if the weather permits they will even go in full dress with kimono and the like. Some of the other firsts celebrated in Japanese New Year are the first laughter, first dream, first letter, first tea and many more.

Along with New Years celebration, Japan also has an associated festival of "Little New Year" (小正月 koshōgatsu), Where they celebrate the first full moon of the year. On the fifteenth day of the first lunar month, About mid February. The usual events of Koshōgatsu usually include religious rights and praying for a rich and bountiful harvest season. This is however when the New Years celebrations usually end and marks the period where most people and places take down their New Years decorations.

(Picture from http://portofembarkation.wordpress.com/tag/heart/)
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