New Year in Japan

New Year’s day is a big holiday in Japan, and traditionally, there are decorations that are associated with the New Year like pine branch, cut bamboos, woven dried rice stalks.  I vaguely thought of the decrease in these decorations at homes and cities for the last few years, but this year, I became aware of the lack of prominent decorations in places I visit in Tokyo and Yokohama.  As I was walking around my neighborhood, in one block, I counted only 2 out of 25 houses decorated their entrance with the New Year ornaments.  Some areas were revers with 2 out of 25 houses not decorated, but for sure, these decorations were becoming smaller each year, less elaborate.  Most of the houses that had outside decorations had only small wreaths.  5 years ago, I think there were a lot more.  15 years ago, I think more houses decorated their homes more than those who did not.   Compared to the decrease of the New Year’s decoration, I think more houses decorate their homes with Christmas trees and ornaments, a lot of lighting.  The food too.  More homes celebrate Christmas with what to Japanese Christmas food like Christmas cake (it is the Christ’s birthday) and roasted chicken (probably images from modern Christmas stories and movies), but less and less homes no longer serve traditional New Year’s food.

It’s fascinating and sobering that marketing effort by business and religion affects our behavior so thoroughly.  That we don’t think the deeply of our own behavior.

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