Insights on Japanese Culture – New Year –
- New Year -
New Year is almost upon us.
People in Asia may be more familiar with Chinese New Year than Western New Year.
As a traditional event, Chinese New Year (usually celebrated in late January or early February of the western calendar) may be considered more important.
This tendency is particularly strong in Korea, Vietnam, Singapore, and other countries that have been strongly influenced by Chinese culture. Even though life follows the western calendar, the Chinese New Year seems to signify the beginning of the New Year, rather than January 1, the New Year of the western calendar.
In fact, Japan is no exception. Looking back on its history, the country was strongly influenced by Chinese culture, and until the late 19th century (Meiji Era), the Chinese New Year was used as the beginning of the year. At that time, the samurai period was coming to an end, and the Meiji government, aiming for modernization, abolished the previous lunar calendar and adopted the western calendar in line with western countries.
Western calendar: The western calendar in common use today has 365 days per year (calculated from the year in which Jesus Christ is said to have been born).
Lunar calendar: The calendar used mainly in China and East Asia has 354 days per year. Therefore, in countries where life is based on the western calendar, but also use the lunar calendar, the Chinese New Year is different from year to year.
In today's Japanese culture, there is no custom to celebrate the Chinese New Year, so many Japanese people do not have a clear idea of the word “Kyu-Shogatsu”, which means Chinese New Year in Japanese. There are Chinatowns in Yokohama, Kobe, Nagasaki, etc., where Chinese New Year is celebrated with great enthusiasm every year. If you visit these Chinatowns, you can enjoy the atmosphere of a traditional Chinese New Year festival.
Most Japanese companies and schools are not closed on Chinese New Year's Day. Therefore, unless it falls on a Saturday or Sunday, work and classes are held as usual. The same applies to TCJ. Chinese and Vietnamese students may be tempted to spend the Chinese New Year's holiday, but please make sure you come to class! To make up for it, TCJ usually has a 3-week winter break from around December 20 to January 10, so take advantage of it to go home or travel!