Why New Year’s Outshines Christmas in Japan



In Japan, New Year’s takes the cultural spotlight over Christmas. This blog passionately explores why New Year’s holds more weight, looking into the deep cultural roots, the significance of customs, and the nuanced historical context.

Opinion on Cultural Significance:

New Year’s, known as Oshogatsu, resonates more profoundly with the Japanese people. Rooted in Shinto and Buddhism, it’s not just a date change but a profound spiritual journey. The rituals, symbolism, and the belief in a fresh start imbue New Year’s with unparalleled cultural weight.

Opinion on Traditional Customs and Rituals:

The meticulous attention to traditional customs during New Year’s amplifies its cultural significance. “Osouji,” the home cleansing ritual, isn’t just about cleanliness; it’s a collective endeavor to purify the soul. “Hatsumode,” the shrine pilgrimage, becomes more than a tradition—it’s a collective spiritual experience, seeking blessings for the collective well-being.

A kagami mochi.


Opinion on the Limited Historical Christmas Connection:

Christmas in Japan lacks the historical gravitas that New Year’s carries. Introduced during the Meiji era, Christmas became more of a commercial extravaganza than a deeply rooted tradition. The absence of religious ties in Japan allows Christmas to be more of a festive diversion than part of the cultural fabric.

Opinion on Commercialization and Festive Atmosphere:

While Christmas boasts dazzling displays, the commercialization can’t overshadow the genuine, contemplative air that envelops New Year’s. It’s about reflecting on the past, embracing familial bonds, and setting intentions for the future. In a society where materialism often takes a backseat, New Year’s is the epitome of authenticity.


In the realm of personal convictions, New Year’s stands as a cultural beacon, outshining Christmas in its depth and authenticity. Oshogatsu‘s spiritual resonance, the time-honored customs, and the historical roots create a cultural narrative that defines the soul of Japan. While Christmas may sparkle with commercial brilliance, it’s the profound cultural weight of New Year’s that steals the spotlight and captures the hearts of the Japanese people.

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