Why doesn’t Japan celebrate Lunar New Year?

Japan celebrates the New Year with great enthusiasm on January 1, the new year celebration called Ganjitsu in Japanese, we all know that this date is based on the Gregorian calendar; But he did not always consider January 1 as New Year nor did he celebrate this day.

Until 1872, Japan used to celebrate its new year according to the Lunar or Lunisolar calendar; Japan adopted the Lunisolar calendar in the sixth century when it celebrated New Year with all its neighboring regions accordingly to this Calendar, the celebration called Lunar New Year.

What is the lunar new year?

Lunar New Year is a new year celebration festival in the lunar calendar, it usually falls from late January to starting of February.

Lunar New Year is the most important festival for the family in East Asia regions; it’s called different names in different regions Chinese Spring festival, Korean Seollal, Vietnamese Tet Nguyen den, Tibetan Solar, Japanese Ryukyu, Mangolian Tsagan Sar.

In 2022 the celebration arrived on Tuesday, 1 February 2022; the animal sign of the year is the Tiger.

In the lunar new year 2023, this festival will come on Sunday, January 22, Animal singing will be the Rabbit.

Click here to 100+ Lunar new year calendar

Now the question is how this significant change in the ancient tradition of Japan, we have discussed this post in detail; so let’s first learn about the Gregorian and the lunar or lunisolar calendar.

Gregorian Calendar:- the Gregorian calendar is based on the Sun, the time it takes for the Earth to complete one round of the Sun is called a year, based on which the weather changes.

The Lunar or Lunisolar Calendar:- The time in which a round of the Earth is completed by the moon, this particular time in the lunar calendar is called one month, This time is usually 29.5 days, like this 12 months combined is called a lunar year.

A lunar month begins on the new moon and ends before the next new moon, between this period lunar month passes.

New Moon-Half Monn-Full Moon-Half Moon-New Moon

Both calendars have 12 months in a year, the number of days in the months of the Gregorian calendar is 28, 29, 30, or 31, but each month of the lunisolar calendar has 29.5 days; there is a difference of 11 between the days of a year; there are 11 days less in a lunar year than in the Gregorian calendar.

Gregorian has 365 days in a year (366 in a lip year). In comparison, a year of the lunisolar calendar has 29.5 days in each month and 354 days in a year.

Because the Gregorian calendar is considered more scientific (due to the similarity between seasons and months in each year), to bring uniformity in seasons, months, and festivals, every second or third year in the Lunisolar calendar is a lip year, which has an additional month, i.e. 13 months.

Lunar New Year in Japan

Now let us know what is the importance of the Lunar New Year in Japan and what place it holds in the present time or what is the tradition of the Lunar New Year in Japan.


So first of all, know what the Lunar New Year is? – it is the first day of the first month of the Lunisolalar calendar; it’s a celebration day.

In 2021 lunar new year falls on Friday, 12 February and Zodiac Animal is the OX.

The Chinese tradition has long been famous for celebrating Lunar New Year because the relationship between China and Japan has been intense since ancient times, even today, many similarities are seen in the traditions, culture, food, and living of the two countries.

Lunar New Year got its initial fame from China, and slowly it became quite famous in neighboring states as well as – Korea, Tibet, Mongolia, Vietnam, Japan, etc.

The tradition of celebrating the New Year in Japan is very ancient, it is a big festival and long holiday time; earlier in Japan the New Year was according to the lunisolar calendar, but after 1873 the New Year in Japan is celebrated on 1 January according to the Gregorian calendar.

Sooner, all of Japan’s national functions, festivals, and holidays were held according to the Lunisolar calendar; the last lunar new year celebrated in Japan was 1872.

Did Japan celebrate Lunar New year?

On 23 October 1868, the Meiji era began in Japan, where its neighbors and other Asian countries were slaves of Europe, while in the world, Japan was emerging as a great power; A large amount of industrialization had begun in Japan and was progressing rapidly.

The Meiji government eliminated many superstitions and conservative traditions from Japan; and as a result, in 1873, Japan, following the Western countries, started celebrating New Year on January 1, 1 month before its neighbors.

Initially, there was a lot of resistance from the people, but later it was completely adopted.
Today, even though Japan celebrates its new year on January 1; the way of celebrating, rituals, and Rachaels are similar to Traditional Lunar New Year.

Why does Japan not celebrate Lunar New Year?
  • Meiji Restoration:- In 1868, the Meiji government was formed which lasted until July 30, 1912, known as the Meiji Era, during this period, Japan underwent major changes and political revolutions, which resulted in the Gregorian calendar being replaced by the Lunar calendar, and the New Year on 1 January Has been done.
  • People of European or Western civilization considered Asian culture, tradition, and superstitions to be insignificant and indecent; So Japan wanted to change itself.
  • Japan abandoned Chinese civilizations, superstitions, and traditions due to growing differences with China.
  • Every second or third year in the Lunisolar calendar is a lip year with 13 months instead of 12, for which the employees had to pay an additional salary of one month.
  • Japan was emerging as a world power with which it befriended western countries, so Japan wanted a similar year calendar.

But Lunar New Year has not become extinct in Japan, even today, this culture exists in some places and villages, But they do not get any national holiday for this.


There are a lot of Chinese migrants in Japan, and Chinese New Year is celebrated in some places by their descendants; There is a lot of shopping at the markets and shops around it during Lunar New Year; Lunar New Year is celebrated in villages somewhere even today according to traditional style.

Some places in Japan where even today Lunar New Year can be seen, Yokohama celebrates the Lunar New Year for 15 days, some cities in Okinawa, southern islands, Ikebukuro of Tokyo, Kobe, some places in Chinatown, Nagasaki’s annual lantern festival; these are some of the places which celebrate the lunar new year, Yokohama and Chinatown are very famous, it is celebrated just like the traditional Chinese New Year.

some traditional foods like Azukiguya (a special food made from Azuki bean), Rice cake, and Su-Sui, are especially eaten on this occasion.

  • The red color is very important in Lunar New Year, it is directly linked to good luck, it is said that the Beast is afraid of the red color and keeps away bad luck from the red color.
  • Waking up late at night on New Year’s Eve brings luck and increases the age of the parent.
  • Excessive use of firecrackers is believed that the beast is afraid of it and will stay away from our homes.
  • Keeping the window doors open on New Year’s night, leads to goodness and good luck.
  • On this day, bathing and cutting hair, and cutting nails are not considered good, good luck also gets dusted with water by bathing.

Now we know very well why Japan does not celebrate the Lunar New Year officially, but celebrates the New Year very brilliantly, So now we will know further how Japan celebrates New Year.

As mentioned above, Japan adopted the 1873 Gregorian calendar in place of the lunisolar calendar, since then it has been celebrating New Year on 1 January.

This festival has definitely been westernized in Japan, but still, a glimpse of the Lunar New Year is available, it has been celebrating the New Year in a traditional way like Chinse New Year.

In which the zodiac animal bicycle, red decoration, red envelopes, and Lantern Festival are also included today, Let us know in detail how the New Year is celebrated in Japan.

Japanese Holidays

In Japan, the New Year is a national holiday on January 1, but preparations start 1 week in advance, this includes shopping a lot, cleaning houses, wearing traditional clothes, and eating traditional food, Burn firecracker.

Every year there is a zodiac animal in Japan, these are the animals that have been closest to humans in nature, the year 2021 is the year of the Ox, these animals rotate in a cycle every 12 years, below are the 12 animals described.

Zodiac Animals Japan

On the basis of man’s birth year, his zodiac animal is determined, it is also predicted by astrology.



it is the first Zodiac Animal

Lucky Number:- 2 & 3 | Lucky Color:- Blue, Gold, Green

Some Rat Years: 1960, 1972, 1984, 1996, 2008, 2020, 2032, 2044, 2056, 2068, 2080

Rat Zodiac Personality:- creative, intelligent, sociable, generosity, ambitious, angry, patience

Ox or Buffalo

Lucky Number:- 1 & 4 | Lucky Color:- Green, Yellow, Red

Some Year of Ox: 1961, 1973, 1985, 1997, 2009, 2021, 2033, 2045, 2057, 2069, 2081

OX Zodiac Personality:- Strong, sociable, self-confident, fearless, honest, peace-loving, fair-hearted, courageous, dominative, trustworthy, reliable.


Lucky Number:- 1,3,4 | Lucky Color:- Blue, Gray, Orange

Tiger Years :- 1962, 1974, 1986, 1998. 2010, 2022, 2034, 2046, 2058, 2070, 2082

Tiger Zodiac Personality:- Confident, powerful, aggressive, brave, determined, tough, lonely


Lucky Number:- 3, 4, 6 | Lucky Color:- Red, Pink, Purple, Blue

Rabbit Years :- 1963, 1975, 1987, 1999, 2011, 2023, 2035, 2047, 2059, 2071, 2083

Rabbit Zodiac Personality:- Clever, kind, polite, responsible, timid


Lucky Number:- 1, 6, 7 | Lucky Color:- Gold, Silver, Grayish, White

Years of the Dragon :- 1964, 1976, 1988, 2000, 2012, 2024, 2036, 2048, 1960, 1972, 1984

Dragon Zodiac Personality:- Leadership, knowledgeable, attractive personality, aggressive, arrogant


Lucky Number:- 2, 8, 9 | Lucky Color:- Black, Red, Yellow

Years of the Snake :- 1965, 1977, 1989, 2001, 2013, 2025, 2037, 2049, 2061, 2073, 2085

Snake Zodiac Personality:- Reclusive, Great thinker, Anxious, Responsible, Leadership, Creative, Romantic, Enthusiastic, Loyal


Lucky Number:- 2, 3, 7 | Lucky Color:- Yellow, Green

Years of the Horse :- 1966, 1978, 1990, 2002, 2014, 2026, 2038, 2050, 2062, 2074, 2086

Horse Zodiac Personality:- Leadership, arrogant, energetic, passionate, romantic, sentimental

Goat or Sheep

Lucky Number:- 2, 7 | Lucky Color:- Brown, Red, Purple

Years of the Horse :- 1967, 1979, 1991, 2003, 2015, 2027, 2039, 2051, 2063, 2075, 2087

Goat/Sheep Zodiac Personality:- Calm, gentle, sociable, family lover, selfless


Lucky Number:- 4, 9 | Lucky Color:- Gold, White, Blue

Years of the Horse :- 1968, 1980, 1992, 2004, 2016, 2028, 2040, 2052, 2064, 2076, 2088

Monkey Zodiac Personality:- Smart, intelligent, inventive, gentle, quick, clever, naughty, sociable


Lucky Number:- 5, 7, 8 | Lucky Color:- Gold, Brown, Yellow

Years of the Horse :- 1969, 1981, 1993, 2005, 2017, 2029, 2041, 2053, 2065, 2077, 2089

Rooster Zodiac Personality:- Responsive, distinctive, gentle, clever, punctual, sociable


Lucky Number:- 3, 4, 9 | Lucky Color:- Green, Red, Purple

Years of the Horse :- 1970, 1982, 1994, 2006, 2018, 2030, 2042, 2054, 2066, 2078, 2090

Dog Zodiac Personality:- Responsive, loyal, family lover, clever, sociable, aggressive, fearless, obedient, hardworking, intelligent


Lucky Number:- 2, 5, 8 | Lucky Color:- Gold, Brown, Grey

Years of the Horse :- 1971, 1983, 1995, 2007, 2019, 2031, 2043, 2055, 2067, 2079, 2091

Pig Zodiac Personality:- diligent, generous, honest, frank, family lover, sociable, compassionate

Traditional Food

  •  Sashimi – Raw fish is cut into slices and eaten with soy sauce.
  •  Shushi – A traditional Japanese raw seafood dish prepared with vinegared rice.
  • Zoni – A Special Japanese Soup that is eaten with Mochi(rice cake).
  • A soup made of herbs and rice, which is eaten on the seventh day of the New Year on the day of Jiujitsu.
  • Mochi – A special Japanese traditional Food, in a vessel, boiled rice is tapped by a person by adding water and others crushed with a wooden mullet, then mashed this crushed rice is made into sticky dumplings, it is an ancient and traditional food which is eaten on New Year.
preparation of Mochi | resource from DancingBacon YouTube channel

Japanese New Year Games

  • Fukuwarai – A game played by Japanese children on New Year, in which children are blindfolded and make ridiculous human faces with paper cuts.
Fukuwarai game | resource from TheAsiaCenter YouTube channel
  • Hanetsuki – It is a traditional Japanese game played with wooden paddles called Hagoita and shuttle Hane, it is played like badminton but it does not have a net, the paddles and shuttles would have been beautifully decorated.
  • Karuta – A playing card game, played between two groups.
  • Sugoroku – A Japanese board game similar to Snak and ladder game.
  • Kendama –
Kendama game | resource from Kendama USA YouTube channel
  • Otedama – A Japanese traditional children’s game, small bean-filled bags are scattered and the bags are grabbed and tossed, replacing them with other bags.
  • Menko – also known as Bettan or Patchin, is a Japanese card game played for two or more.
  • Daifugo – another Japanese card game played for three or more, Daifugo also called Tycoon.
  • Takagi – kite flying.
  • Koma – spinning Top.

Ring the Bell ritual

In Buddhism, 108 sins committed by humans are mentioned, so to get rid of them, at the midnight (31 December) before the New Year, 108 times are visited Buddhist temples instead; this ritual is called Joyanokane, the Japanese believe that their previous year’s sins are washed away.

Nengajo Ritual

It is a tradition to send New Year greetings by postcard, but due to the current digital age, its circulation has reduced slightly, In modern times people greet by phone, message, or email, but most people traditionally use beautiful and well-equipped postcards with their own hands or using readymade cards that are written by a machine, which they use to send their relatives and friends.

Due to the Nengajo tradition, at the end of December, all the post offices in Japan are very crowded, the post office also guarantees to deliver the greetings card on time(1 January), for this, it also takes the help of local students, if someone in the family dies, the Nengajo is not sent.

Otoshidama Ritual
Adult relatives give children good luck money in red envelopes on New Year’s Day as a gift.

Little New Year
It is celebrated on 15 January, it is the last day of the festival, traditional food rice gruel and adzuki beans are eaten in the morning and God is prayed for a good harvest.

the similarity between the Japanese new year and Chinese New Year

  1. The zodiac Animals and their cycle are the same in both cultures.
  2. The tradition of giving money in red envelopes.
  3. Family gathering and reunion dinner on New Year’s Eve.
  4. Red decoration and the special importance of red color.


Do the Japanese celebrate Lunar New Year?

Japan does not officially celebrate Lunar New Year. they celebrate New Year every year on 1 January with great fanfare; this New Year celebration is based on the  Gregorian Calendar, but this was not before 1873.

Do Japanese and Korean celebrate Chinese New Year?

Japanese Ryukyu and Korean Seollal called to Chinese New Year; Japan adopted the Gregorian calendar in 1873 to replace the Lunar calendar since then it celebrates the New Year on 1 January, but Lunar New Year is still celebrated in Korea with great pomp.

Does Japan follow the lunar calendar?

Until 1872, Japan’s official functions were based on the lunar calendar, but on October 23, 1868, the Meiji government was formed, which introduced the Gregorian calendar to Japan in 1873, Now all official work in Japan has been according to the Gregorian calendar.

Who is celebrating Lunar New Year?

Lunar New Year is a most Traditional festival in Asia, especially in countries of East Asia; it is celebrated on the arrival of spring and hence it is also called Spring festival; the lunar new year is known by different names in different regions Chinese called Chinese New Year, Tibetan Solar, Vietnamese tet, Korean Sollal, Mongolian Tsagan Sar.

How does Japan celebrate the Lunar New Year?

Cleaning the house and surroundings, Red color decoration is said that brings happiness and remove misfortune, gifting money in red envelopes to children, reunion dinner with family on New Year’s Eve, waking up late in the night, and this gives mature longevity, for entertainment, artists perform lion dances and stunts.

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