How the Japanese say sayonara and usher in the new year


Bright lights and city sights, these are a few things you will not miss as you stroll down the famously lit streets of Omotesando Hills or bumble around in Odori Park.

Top picks to be awed by the sparkle and dazzle include the Caretta Shiodome Illumination in Tokyo, Kobe Luminarie in Kobe and the Kingdom of Light in Hui Ten Bosch, Nagasaki.

Christmas KFC

An estimated 3.6 million Japanese families tuck into Kentucky Fried Chicken for Christmas yearly.

This phenomenon began with a viral marketing plan called “kurisumasu ni wa kentakki, (クリスマスにはケンタッキー, Kentucky for Christmas”, after which their Party Barrel became synonymous with the holiday.

Snow Festivals 
Nothing shouts winter better than a blanket of powdery white snow.

Celebrate the holiday season with a visit to see Guinness World Record-holding giant snow sculptures at Asahikawa Snow Festival, or take a romantic walk around Hirosaki Castle, where snow lanterns made by citizens light up the paths.

Literally meaning “a session to forget the year”, these annual year-end parties are usually observed by co-workers and sponsored by a company for their employees.


As implied by its name, the gathering is to forget the troubles of the past year before moving into the new year on a clean slate. Started in the 15th century as a party to express thanks, it has evolved to the bōnenkai Japanese hold today, with copious amounts of alcohol!

Toshikoshi soba 
The word toshikoshi (年越し) means to jump over from the old year to the new.

Enjoyed on the eve of New Year, each strand is easily bitten off and symbolise a clean break from the old year. The long, thin shape is also associated with a long and healthy life, so why not spend this New Year’s Eve soba instead?

**All illustrations are from**

(This feature first appeared on WAttention Singapore magazine, Jan/Feb 2018 Vol. 42)




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