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Special Issue : December

December in Japan is Full of Activity for Christmas and Getting Ready for the New Year

Gotemba Heights (Toki-no-Sumika)

Merry Christmas!

Going into December, the streets of Japan are suddenly bathed in a Christmas mood.

People are filled with exhilaration surrounded by the beautiful illuminations.

For example, at Hamamatsu Station, a Christmas event sponsored by Hamamatsu City is put on.

A 27m tall tree appears, and around it many gospel concerts and wedding ceremonies take place.

When the glamorous Christmas is over, it is time to prepare for the New Year.

Year-end cleaning is done, and kagami-mochi rice cakes are set out, kadomatsu pine decorations and shimenawa ropes are hung out by the front door, to greet the gods of the new year.

And then we reach the final day of the year, New Year’s Eve (omisoka).

The family gathers to eat soba noodles, and pray that their lives will be healthy and as long as the noodles.

From late at night to the dawn of the new year, temple bells peal, ringing out the "Joya no Kane." Through striking the New Year bells, kilesa (delusions that tempt people’s hearts) are supposed to be expelled.

There are many temples where the general public can strike the bell, at for example the Hattasan Soneiji Temple in Fukuroi City, and the Houkoji Temple in Inasa Town, so why not try it out? Remembering the year’s events while listening to the ringing sound of the bell in the stillness is quite stylish.

Hattasan Soneiji Temple

Suisen (Narcissus) Festival

The Fire Festival of Akiha Shrine and Shuyoji Temple

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