Food also plays a big role in New Year’s celebrations in Japan. Noodles in hot broth (Toshikoshi soba) is traditionally eaten on New Year’s Eve, while o-sechi ryori is typically enjoyed on New Year’s Day. As in Hawaii, some Japanese families get together to prepare mochi, while others prefer to buy ready-made versions.

New Year's trivia: Joya no kane, a wonderful New Year custom
New Year’s trivia: Joya no kane, a wonderful New Year custom

As midnight strikes on New Year’s Eve, bells ring out from Buddhist temples all over Japan. The temple bells are rung 108 times as this number represents the number of human desires which lead to pain and suffering. The ringing of the bells is known as joya no kane and is meant to be a ritual in which all negative emotions and experiences are driven away.

Furthermore, people also gather on beaches and mountaintops to observe the first sunrise of the new year and pray for good fortune and joy.

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