正月 (shōgatsu) the Japanese New Year.
Japan will celebrate the 23d year of the Heisei era. Or in accordance with the 皇紀 (Koki) calendar, the year 2670.Kōki one is the year when legendary Emperor Jimmu founded Japan, 660 BC according to the Gregorian calendar.
The Gregorian system was adopted in 1872 replacing the Chinese lunar calendar wish was celebrated at the beginning of spring, just as the contemporary Chinese, Korean and Vietnamese New Years are celebrated to this day.
However, the Gregorian calendar was only used for the month, weeks and days. The years where still counted in eras, this system was introduced in practice during the Meiji period and instituted by law in 1979. Therefore, the posthumous names of the emperors and empresses who reigned before 1868 may not be taken as era names by themselves.
We can also use the Kōki year that emphasizes the long history of Japan and the imperial family.
Nowadays, the Anno Domini years are used as well though, but only for business, not with in any government institution.
The New Years celebration here in Japan, is maybe the most important of all celebrations of the year and could be compared in importance to the Jewish Hanukah celebration or Christian Christmas or Eastern Celebrations and the Muslim Eid celebration.
It is a time for families to unite and practice Hatsumōde wish is the first trip to a shrine or temple with the entrance of the New Year at midnight. This should be done preferably in a kimono.
Every thing from there on is taken rather seriously and of great importance. One has to pay special attention to all things done for the first time, called “firsts”.
初日の出 (Hatsuhinode) is the first sunrise of the year. Before sunrise on January 1, people often drive to the coast or climb a mountain so that they can see the first sunrise of the New Year.
Other "firsts" such as 仕事始め (shigoto-hajime) the first work of the new year or 稽古始め (keiko-hajime) the first sport practice of the new year all the way to the first tea ceremony of the new year called 茶の湯 (chanoyu).
This new year as every new year we will eat the traditional sashimi and sushi as well as boiled seaweed, mashed sweet potato with chestnut and this will be followed on the sevens day by a died of seven-herb rice soup wish is known as 人日 (jinjitsu) literally "Human Day".
The name comes from an ancient Chinese custom called Renri. These consist in the opening days of the first lunar month. Each day is assigned to a particular animal, it is forbidden to kill that animal on that day. The first seven days of the month are assigned as Chicken Day, Dog Day, Boar Day, Sheep Day, Cow Day, Horse Day, and Human Day: on this seventh day, no punishments can handed out to Humans including criminals.
Important as well this time of the year are the postcards called 年賀状 (nengajō) those are well marked and have to arrive on new years day. It is almost imperative to do this.
However, It is customary not to send these postcards when one has had a death in the family during the year. In this case, a family member sends a simple postcard to inform friends and relatives they should not send New Year's cards, out of respect for the deceased.
The New Year traditions are also an integrate part of the Japanese poetry, including haiku and renga.
We do decorate for new years as well, just as Christmas includes the Christmas tree the Japanese New Year needs the kadomatsu wish is a traditional decoration for the New Year holiday.
Most popular greetings for that time of the year would be 今年もよろしくお願いします (kotoshi mo yoroshiku o-negai-shimasu) meaning, “I hope for your favour again in the coming year.”
There for I shall conclude with 謹賀新年 (kinga shinnen) Happy New Year.