The Japanese New Year (正月 shōgatsu) is celebrated on New Year's Day (January 1st) each year.
Considered by most Japanese to be one of the most important annual events of the year, the event has been celebrated for centuries with many unique customs focusing on the renewal, or clean-slate that the new year brings.
A common way of celebrating the New Year is Hatsumōde; the year’s first trip to a shrine or temple. Many people visit a shrine after midnight on December 31 or sometime during the day on January 1st. If the weather is good, people often dress up or wear kimono.
At midnight on December 31st, Buddhist temples all over Japan ring their bells a 108 times to symbolize the 108 human sins in Buddhist belief. The action is meant to symbolize the cleansing of these sins and the 108 worldly desires regarding sense and feeling in every Japanese citizen.
- Before 1873, the date of the New Year was based on the Chinese lunar calendar, however in 1873 Japan adopted the Gregorian calendar, making the first of January the official New Year's Day in modern Japan.
- Though the event is not featured in the anime, the ending credits of Love Hina X-mas Special: Silent Eve OVA features a skit of the Hinata girls visiting a Shinto shrine during New Year’s.