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Archive for the 'Japanese Holidays' Category

How to Say Happy New Year in Japanese & New Year Wishes

Learn all the Japanese New Year wishes online, in your own time, on any device! Join JapanesePod101 for a special Japanese New Year celebration!

How to Say Happy New Year in Japanese

Can you relate to the year passing something like this: “January, February, March - December!”? Many people do! Quantum physics teaches us that time is relative, and few experiences illustrate this principle as perfectly as when we reach the end of a year. To most of us, it feels like the old one has passed in the blink of an eye, while the new year lies ahead like a very long journey! However, New Year is also a time to celebrate beginnings, and to say goodbye to what has passed. This is true in every culture, no matter when New Year is celebrated.

So, how do you say Happy New Year in Japanese? Let a native teach you! At JapanesePod101, you will learn how to correctly greet your friends over New Year, and wish them well with these Japanese New Year wishes!

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Table of Contents

  1. How to Celebrate New Year in Japan
  2. Must-Know Japanese Words & Phrases for the New Year!
  3. Top 10 New Year’s Resolutions in Japanese
  4. Inspirational New Year Quotes
  5. Inspirational Language Learning Quotes
  6. How To Say Happy New Year in 31 Languages
  7. How JapanesePod101 Can Help You Learn Japanese

But let’s start with some vocabulary for Japanese New Year celebrations, very handy for conversations.

1. How to Celebrate New Year in Japan

On New Year’s Day, the whole world celebrates the start of the year. While the calendar marks only January 1st as a holiday, in Japan we celebrate the period from the 1st to the 3rd, known as 三が日 (Sanganichi). Some companies and stores close during this time, and a number of unique events and customs take place. When you meet someone for the first time in the new year, be sure to greet them with, “明けましておめでとうございます。(Akemashite omedetō gozaimasu!)” That’s Japanese for “Happy New Year!”

You’ll also hear 良いお年を。(Yoi o-toshi o.) at the end of the year and it’s often translated into “Happy New Year!” in English. The difference between 明けましておめでとうございます。 and 良いお年を。is, 良いお年を。is only used before the New Year and 明けましておめでとうございます。 is used in the New Year. 謹賀新年 (きんがしんねん; kingashinnen) means ‘Happy New Year’ too but it’s a written form so you’ll only see it on your 年賀状 (ねんがじょう; nengajou), which is a Japanese New Year’s card.

Now, before we get into more detail, do you know the answer to this question: what do you call the morning of New Year’s Day?

If you don’t already know, you’ll find out a bit later. Keep listening.

New Year’s Day celebrations generally begin with the first sunrise of the year, with people worshiping at homes, the beach, and mountains. 雑煮(zōni) - “rice cakes boiled with vegetables” - and おせち(osechi) dishes - “festive New Year’s food” — are eaten on New Year’s Day. 雑煮 (zōni) is a soup containing rice cakes, the seasoning of which depends on the family and region. There’s a saying that goes, “Just like a rice cake stretches, so shall one’s lifespan.” So, this soup is eaten with the hope for longevity. おせち(osechi) dishes are also eaten with the wish of having a happy and safe year. In order to seek blessings for the year, families and friends wear their finest clothes and visit a shrine.

In Japan, it’s customary to send New Year’s cards to friends or acquaintances who have helped you in the previous year. In the cards, we write greetings and hopes for the year, as well as information on how the person or family is getting along. A picture of an animal representing the zodiac sign for the new year is also included. In the past, people would either visit the homes of their acquaintances, or receive acquaintances as guests in their homes with the New Year’s custom called お年始 (o-nenshi). This custom has been simplified gradually to the point where only greeting cards are exchanged.

Children receive お年玉 (o-toshidama), meaning “New Year’s gifts” from their parents, grandparents, relatives, and parents’ friends. The traditional gift is money. Since this only happens at New Year, children get very excited about it. お年玉 (o-toshidama) are placed into a paper envelope called an お年玉袋 (o-toshidama bukuro). The average amount given to an elementary school-aged child is around 3,000 to 5,000 yen. As they grow older, middle school-aged children receive around 5,000 yen, and those in high school receive around 10,000 yen.

Here’s our fun fact for the day! Did you know that while people go to a shrine to pray during New Year’s Day, some visit the shrine at midnight as time passes from the previous year to the New Year? This practice of making a midnight visit is called 二年参り(ninen-mairi).

Now it’s time to answer our quiz question: what do you call the morning of New Year’s Day?

The correct answer is 元旦 (gantan). Two characters form this word. The second character, 旦 (tan), is made up of the character for “sun,” with a single horizontal line drawn under it. With these pictographs combined, the character represents the sun rising over the horizon. And taken together, the two characters 元旦 (gantan) represent the morning of January 1st.

Happy New Year!
明けましておめでとうございます。
Akemashite omedetō gozaimasu!

2. Must-Know Japanese Words & Phrases for the New Year!

Japanese Words & Phrases for the New Year

1- Year


toshi

This is pretty self-explanatory. Most countries follow a Gregorian calendar, which has approximately 365 days in a year, while in some cultures, other year designations are also honored. Therefore, New Year’s day in Japan could fall on a different day than in your country. When do you celebrate New Year?

2- Midnight

真夜中
mayonaka

The point in time when a day ends and a new one starts. Many New Year celebrants prefer to stay awake till midnight, and greet the new annum as it breaks with fanfare and fireworks!

3- New Year’s Day

元日
Ganjitsu

In most countries, the new year is celebrated for one whole day. On the Gregorian calendar, this falls on January 1st. On this day, different cultures engage in festive activities, like parties, parades, big meals with families and many more.

4- Party

パーティ
pāti

A party is most people’s favorite way to end the old year, and charge festively into the new one! We celebrate all we accomplished in the old year, and joyfully anticipate what lies ahead.

5- Dancing

踊り
odori

Usually, when the clock strikes midnight and the New Year officially begins, people break out in dance! It is a jolly way to express a celebratory mood with good expectations for the year ahead. Also, perhaps, that the old year with its problems has finally passed! Dance parties are also a popular way to spend New Year’s Eve in many places.

6- Champagne

シャンパン
shanpan

Originating in France, champagne is a bubbly, alcoholic drink that is often used to toast something or someone during celebrations.

7- Fireworks

花火
hanabi

These are explosives that cause spectacular effects when ignited. They are popular for announcing the start of the new year with loud noises and colorful displays! In some countries, fireworks are set off to scare away evil spirits. In others, the use of fireworks is forbidden in urban areas due to their harmful effect on pets. Most animals’ hearing is much more sensitive than humans’, so this noisy display can be very frightful and traumatising to them.

8- Countdown

カウントダウン
kaunto daun

This countdown refers to New Year celebrants counting the seconds, usually backward, till midnight, when New Year starts - a great group activity that doesn’t scare animals, and involves a lot of joyful shouting when the clock strikes midnight!

9- New Year’s Holiday

正月
shōgatsu

In many countries, New Year’s Day is a public holiday - to recuperate from the party the previous night, perhaps! Families also like to meet on this day to enjoy a meal and spend time together.

10- Confetti

紙吹雪
kamifubuki

In most Western countries, confetti is traditionally associated with weddings, but often it is used as a party decoration. Some prefer to throw it in the air at the strike of midnight on New Year’s Eve.

11- New Year’s Eve

大晦日
ōmisoka

This is the evening before New Year breaks at midnight! Often, friends and family meet for a party or meal the evening before, sometimes engaging in year-end rituals. How are you planning to give your New Year greetings in 2018?

12- Toast

乾杯
kanpai

A toast is a type of group-salutation that involves raising your glass to drink with others in honor of something or someone. A toast to the new year is definitely in order!

13- Resolution

決意
ketsui

Those goals or intentions you hope to, but seldom keep in the new year! Many people consider the start of a new year to be the opportune time for making changes or plans. Resolutions are those intentions to change, or the plans. It’s best to keep your resolutions realistic so as not to disappoint yourself!

14- Parade

パレード
parēdo

New Year celebrations are a huge deal in some countries! Parades are held in the streets, often to celebratory music, with colorful costumes and lots of dancing. Parades are like marches, only less formal and way more fun. At JapanesePod101, you can engage in forums with natives who can tell you what Japanese New Year celebrations are like!

3. Top 10 New Year’s Resolutions

So, you learned the Japanese word for ‘resolution’. Fabulous! Resolutions are those goals and intentions that we hope to manifest in the year that lies ahead. The beginning of a new year serves as a good marker in time to formalise these. Some like to do it in writing, others only hold these resolutions in their hearts. Here are our Top 10 New Year’s resolutions at JapanesePod101 - what are yours?

Learn these phrases and impress your Japanese friends with your vocabulary.

New Year's Resolutions

1- Read more

本をたくさん読む。
Hon o takusan yomu.

Reading is a fantastic skill that everyone can benefit from. You’re a business person? Apparently, successful business men and women read up to 60 books a year. This probably excludes fiction, so better scan your library or Amazon for the top business reads if you plan to follow in the footsteps of the successful! Otherwise, why not make it your resolution to read more Japanese in the new year? You will be surprised by how much this will improve your Japanese language skills!

2- Spend more time with family

家族と多くの時間を過ごす。
Kazoku to ōku no jikan o sugosu.

Former US President George Bush’s wife, Barbara Bush, was quoted as having said this: “At the end of your life, you will never regret not having passed one more test, not winning one more verdict, or not closing one more deal. You will regret time not spent with a husband, a friend, a child, a parent.” This is very true! Relationships are often what gives life meaning, so this is a worthy resolution for any year.

3- Lose weight

やせる。
Yaseru.

Hands up, how many of you made this new year’s resolution last year too…?! This is a notoriously difficult goal to keep, as it takes a lot of self discipline not to eat unhealthily. Good luck with this one, and avoid unhealthy fad diets!

4- Save money

お金を貯める。
O-kane o tameru.

Another common and difficult resolution! However, no one has ever been sorry when they saved towards reaching a goal. Make it your resolution to save money to upgrade your subscription to JapanesePod101’s Premium PLUS option in the new year - it will be money well spent!

5- Quit smoking

禁煙する。
Kin’ensuru.

This is a resolution that you should definitely keep, or your body could punish you severely later! Smoking is a harmful habit with many hazardous effects on your health. Do everything in your power to make this resolution come true in the new year, as your health is your most precious asset.

6- Learn something new

習い事を始める。
Naraigoto o hajimeru.

Science has proven that learning new skills can help keep brain diseases such as dementia and Alzheimer’s at bay! It can even slow down the progression of the disease. So, keep your brain healthy by learning to speak a new language, studying towards a qualification, learning how to sew, or how to play chess - no matter how old you are, the possibilities are infinite!

7- Drink less

お酒の量を減らす。
O-sake no ryō o herasu.

This is another health resolution that is good to heed any time of the year. Excessive drinking is associated with many diseases, and its effect can be very detrimental to good relationships too. Alcohol is a poison and harmful for the body in large quantities!

8- Exercise regularly

運動の習慣を身につける。
Undō no shūkan o minitsukeru.

This resolution goes hand-in-hand with ‘Lose weight’! An inactive body is an unhealthy and often overweight one, so give this resolution priority in the new year.

9- Eat healthy

健康的な食生活を心がける。
Kenkō-teki na shokuseikatsu o kokorogakeru.

If you stick with this resolution, you will lose weight and feel better in general. It is a very worthy goal to have!

10- Study Japanese with JapanesePod101

JapanesePod101.comで日本語を勉強するつもりです。
Japanīzu poddo ichi maru ichi dotto komu de Nihongo o benkyō suru tsumori desu.

Of course! You can only benefit from learning Japanese, especially with us! Learning how to speak Japanese can keep your brain healthy, it can widen your circle of friends, and improve your chances to land a dream job anywhere in the world. JapanesePod101 makes it easy and enjoyable for you to stick to this resolution.

4. Inspirational New Year Quotes

Inspirational Quotes

Everyone knows that it is sometimes very hard to stick to resolutions, and not only over New Year. The reasons for this vary from person to person, but all of us need inspiration every now and then! A good way to remain motivated is to keep inspirational quotes near as reminders that it’s up to us to reach our goals.

Click here for quotes that will also work well in a card for a special Japanese new year greeting!

Make decorative notes of these in Japanese, and keep them close! Perhaps you could stick them above your bathroom mirror, or on your study’s wall. This way you not only get to read Japanese incidentally, but also remain inspired to reach your goals! Imagine feeling like giving up on a goal, but reading this quote when you go to the bathroom: “It does not matter how slowly you go, as long as you do not stop.” What a positive affirmation!

5. Inspirational Language Learning Quotes

Language Learning Quotes

Still undecided whether you should enroll with JapanesePod101 to learn a new language? There’s no time like the present to decide! Let the following Language Learning Quotes inspire you with their wisdom.

Click here to read the most inspirational Language Learning Quotes!

As legendary President Nelson Mandela once said: “If you talk to a man in a language he understands, that goes to his head. If you talk to him in his own language, that goes to his heart.” So, learning how to say Happy New Year in Japanese could well be a way into someone special’s heart for you! Let this year be the one where you to learn how to say Happy New Year, and much more, in Japanese - it could open many and unexpected doors for you.

6. How To Say Happy New Year in 31 Languages

Here’s a lovely bonus for you! Why stop with Japanese - learn how to say Happy New Year in 31 other languages too! Watch this video and learn how to pronounce these New Year’s wishes like a native in under two minutes.

7. Why Enrolling with JapanesePod101 Would Be the Perfect New Year’s Gift to Yourself!

If you are unsure how to celebrate the New Year, why not give yourself a huge gift, and enroll to learn Japanese! With more than 12 years of experience behind us, we know that JapanesePod101 would be the perfect fit for you. There are so many reasons for this!

Learning Paths

  • Custom-tailored Learning Paths: Start learning Japanese at the level that you are. We have numerous Learning Pathways, and we tailor them just for you based on your goals and interests! What a boon!
  • Marked Progress and Fresh Learning Material Every Week: We make new lessons available every week, with an option to track your progress. Topics are culturally appropriate and useful, such as “Learning how to deliver negative answers politely to a business partner.” Our aim is to equip you with Japanese that makes sense!
  • Multiple Learning Tools: Learn in fun, easy ways with resources such 1,000+ video and audio lessons, flashcards, detailed PDF downloads, and mobile apps suitable for multiple devices!
  • Fast Track Learning Option: If you’re serious about fast-tracking your learning, Premium Plus would be the perfect way to go! Enjoy perks such as personalised lessons with ongoing guidance from your own, native-speaking teacher, and one-on-one learning on your mobile app! You will not be alone in your learning. Weekly assignments with non-stop feedback, answers and corrections will ensure speedy progress.
  • Fun and Easy: Keeping the lessons fun and easy-to-learn is our aim, so you will stay motivated by your progress!

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There’s no reason not to go big in 2018 by learning Japanese with JapanesePod101. Just imagine how the world can open up for you!

How to Say ‘Merry Christmas’ in Japanese

How to Say Merry Christmas in Japanese

Do you know any ways to wish someone a ‘Merry Christmas’ in Japanese? JapanesePod101 brings you easy-to-learn translations and the correct pronunciation of Japanese Christmas phrases!

Christmas is the annual commemorative festival of Christ’s birth in the Western Christian Church. It takes place on December 25th and is usually celebrated with much food and fanfare! However, not all cultures celebrate Christmas. In some countries, Christmas is not even a public holiday! However, many countries have adapted Christmas and its religious meaning to tally with their own beliefs, or simply in acknowledgment of the festival’s importance to other cultures. If you want to impress native Japanese speakers with culturally-appropriate Christmas phrases and vocabulary, JapanesePod101 will teach you the most important ways to wish someone a ‘Merry Christmas’ in Japanese!

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Table of Contents

  1. How to Celebrate Christmas in Japan
  2. Holiday Greetings and Wishes
  3. Must-Know Christmas Day Vocabulary
  4. Twelve Days of Christmas
  5. Top 10 Christmas Characters
  6. How JapanesePod101 Can Help You

1. How to Celebrate Christmas in Japan

Christmas Words in Japanese

As everyone knows, Christmas is a holiday that celebrates the birth of Jesus Christ. In Japan, this holiday is a major event but does not have any religious association. Instead, it’s celebrated with secular traditions. The day is an especially happy one for children, who receive a present from Santa Claus.

Now, before we go into more detail, do you know the answer to this question: when did Christmas come to be recognized in Japan?

If you don’t already know, you’ll find out a bit later.

From the start of November, cities are adorned with Christmas trees and Christmas sales begin. It’s a happy time when people choose presents for their family, friends, and partners. The stores play a never-ending selection of Christmas songs, which helps to excite the hearts of the shoppers. Department stores, bakeries, and convenience stores often sell Christmas cakes. A wide variety of Christmas cakes are sold, ranging from the ever-popular strawberry and fresh cream cake, all the way to some quite elaborate versions. Some places accept orders from October. Also, sales of chicken increase at Christmas in Japan. Trees on the streets are decorated with LED lights that beautifully illuminate the nights of midwinter.

On Christmas Eve, children place a stocking by their bed and are excited to wake up the following morning to find a present left by Santa Claus. Parents prepare in advance by asking their children what kind of toy they would like.

At Christmas, more and more Japanese are enjoying a Christmas dinner at home with their family rather than eating out. Single people often eat dinner with their friends or partner, and they exchange gifts and hold parties. Among the younger generation, there is tendency for people to spend a romantic Christmas with their boyfriend or girlfriend.

Here’s our fun fact for the day! Do you know what the most famous Japanese Christmas song is? It’s no exaggeration to say that the most famous song is “Christmas Eve” by 山下達郎 (Tatsuro Yamashita). It’s a popular song in which the lyrics speak of lovers unable to meet on Christmas Eve.

Now it’s time to answer the quiz question: when was Christmas recognized in Japan?

The correct answer is the Meiji era, beginning in the late 19th century. 明治屋 (Meiji-Ya) is a food import company that established a branch in Ginza and held one of the first Christmas sales there. Because of this, celebrating Christmas became more widespread. With each passing year, Christmas becomes more and more of a major annual event, and perhaps could be considered one of the most fun occasions for the Japanese.

2. Holiday Greetings and Wishes for the Holiday Season

Holiday Greetings and Wishes

1- Merry Christmas!

メリークリスマス!
Merīkurisumasu!

Do you know how to say ‘Merry Christmas’ in Japanese? Learn here how to pronounce it perfectly! ‘Merry’ means to be joyful, to celebrate and generally be in good spirits. So, with this phrase you are wishing someone a joyful, celebratory remembrance of Christ’s birth!

2- Happy Kwanzaa!

クワンザおめでとう!
Kuwanza omedetō!

Surprise your African-American, or West African native friends with this phrase over the Christmas holidays! Kwanzaa is a seven-day, non-religious celebration, starting on Dec 26th each year. It has its roots in African American modern history, and many people celebrate both Kwanzaa and Christmas!

3- Have a happy New Year!

良いお年を。
Yoi o-toshi o.

In countries where Christmas is not officially celebrated, but a Gregorian calendar is observed, this would be a friendly festive-season wish over New Year.

4- Happy Hanukkah!

ハヌーカおめでとう!
Hanūka omedetō!

Hanukkah is the beautiful Hebrew festival over November or December each year. It is also called the ‘Festival of Lights’ and is celebrated to commemorate the Jewish freedom of religion.

5- Have a great winter vacation!

良い冬休みを!
Ī fuyu yasumi o!

This is a good phrase to keep handy if someone doesn’t observe any religious festival over the Christmas holidays! However, this will only be applicable in the Northern hemisphere, where it is winter over Christmas.

6- See you next year!

また来年!
Mata rainen!

Going away on holiday over Christmas season, or saying goodbye to someone about to leave on vacation? This would be a good way to say goodbye to your friends and family.

7- Warm wishes!

ご多幸をお祈りしています。
Go-takō o oinori shite imasu.

An informal, friendly phrase to write in Japanese Christmas cards, especially for secular friends who prefer to observe Christmas celebrations without the religious symbolism. It conveys the warmth of friendship and friendly wishes associated with this time of year.

8- Happy holidays!

良い休暇を!
Ī kyūka o!

If you forget how to say ‘Merry Christmas!’ in Japanese, this is a safe, generic phrase to use instead.

9- Enjoy the holidays!

休暇を楽しんでね!
Kyūka o tanoshinde ne!

After saying ‘Merry Christmas’ in Japanese, this would be a good phrase with which to wish Christmas holiday-goers well! It is also good to use for secular friends who don’t celebrate Christmas but take a holiday at this time of the year.

10- Best wishes for the New Year!

新年が良い年でありますように。
Shin’nen ga yoi toshi de arimasu yō ni.

This is another way of wishing someone well in the New Year if they observe a Gregorian calendar. New Year’s day would then fall on January 1st.

3. Must-Know Christmas Day Vocabulary

Christmas is associated with many traditions and religious symbols in multiple countries across the world. It originated centuries ago in the West with the birth of Christianity, and the celebrations are often embedded with rich cultural significance. So, by now you know how to say Merry Christmas in Japanese! Next, learn pertinent vocabulary and phrases pertaining to Christmas, as well as how to pronounce them correctly. At JapanesePod101, we make sure you sound like a native speaker!

1- Christmas

クリスマス
Kurisumasu

This is the Japanese word for ‘Christmas’. Most happy Christmas wishes in Japanese will include this word!

2- Snow


yuki

In most Northern-hemisphere countries, Christmas is synonymous with snow, and for Christmas, the snowman is often dressed as Santa Claus.

3- Snowflake

雪の結晶
yuki no kesshō

Snowflakes collectively make up snow. A single snowflake is small, white, light like a feather and icy cold! When put under a microscope, the snowflake reveals itself to have the most beautiful, symmetrical patterns. These patterns have become popular Christmas decorations, especially in Western countries.

4- Snowman

雪だるま
yukidaruma

As you guessed - a snowman is only possible to build if it is snowing! What a fun way to spend Christmas day outside.

5- Turkey

七面鳥
shichimenchō

Roast turkey is the traditional main dish on thousands of lunch tables on Christmas day, mainly in Western countries. What is your favorite Christmas dish?

6- Wreath

リース
rīsu

Another traditional Western decoration for Christmas, the wreath is an arrangement of flowers, leaves, or stems fastened in a ring. Many families like to hang a Christmas wreath outside on their houses’ front doors.

7- Reindeer

トナカイ
tonakai

Reindeer are the animals commonly fabled to pull Santa Claus’ sled across the sky! Western Christmas folklore tells of Father Christmas or Santa Claus doing the rounds with his sled, carrying Christmas presents for children, and dropping them into houses through the chimney. But who is Santa Claus?

8- Santa Claus

サンタクロース
Santa Kurōsu

Santa Claus is a legendary and jolly figure originating in the Western Christian culture. He is known by many names, but is traditionally depicted as a rotund man wearing a red costume with a pointy hat, and sporting a long, snow-white beard!

9- Elf

妖精
yōsei

An elf is a supernatural creature of folklore with pointy ears, a dainty, humanoid body and a capricious nature. Elves are said to help Santa Claus distribute presents to children over Christmas!

10- Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer

赤鼻のトナカイ
akahana no tonakai

‘Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer’ is a Christmas song based on an American children’s story book with the same name. Rudolph is one of Santa’s reindeer. The song became more famous than the book, and can still be heard playing in many shopping malls over Christmas time across the globe!

11- North Pole

北極
hokkyoku

The cold North Pole is where Santa Claus is reputed to live with his reindeer!

12- Sled

そり
sori

A sled is a non-motorised land vehicle used to travel over snow in countries where it snows a lot, and is usually pulled by animals such as horses, dogs or reindeer. This one obviously refers to Santa’s sled! Another word for sled is sleigh or sledge.

13- Present

プレゼント
purezento

Gift or present giving is synonymous with Christmas Eve and the greatest source of joy for children over this festive time! This tradition signifies that Christ’s birth was a gift to mankind, but not all people who hand out presents over Christmas observe the religious meaning.

14- Bell


suzu

On Christmas Day, or Christmas Eve, many religious celebrants enjoy going to church for a special sermon and Christmas rituals. The start of the sermon is often announced with bells or a bell, if the church has one. For this reason, the sound of ringing bells is often associated with Christmas Day.

15- Chimney

煙突
entotsu

The chimney is the entrance Santa Claus uses to deliver children’s presents on Christmas Day, according to folklore! Wonder how the chubby man and his elves stay clean…?!

16- Fireplace

暖炉
danro

In most countries where it snows, Christmas is synonymous with a fire or burning embers in houses’ fireplaces. Families huddle around its warmth while opening Christmas presents. Also, this is where Santa Claus is reputed to pop out after his journey down the chimney!

17- Christmas Day

クリスマス
Kurisumasu

This is the official day of commemorative celebration of Christ’s birth, and falls each year on December 25.

18- Decoration

装飾 装飾
sōshoku

Decorations are the colourful trinkets and posters that make their appearance in shops and homes during the Christmas holiday season in many countries! They give the places a celebratory atmosphere in anticipation of the big Christmas celebration. Typical Christmas decorations include colorful photographs and posters, strings of lights, figurines of Santa Claus and the nativity scene, poinsettia flowers, snowflakes and many more.

19- Stocking

靴下
kutsushita

According to legend, Santa Claus places children’s presents in a red stocking hanging over the fireplace. This has also become a popular decoration, signifying Christmas.

20- Holly

ヒイラギ
hiiragi

Holly is a shrub native to the UK, and parts of Europe, Africa and Asia. It is characterised by glossy, spiny-toothed leaves, small, whitish flowers, and red berries. Ironically, its significance for Christmas relates to Christ’s crucifixion and suffering rather than his birth. However, the leaves’ distinctive shape and image have become popular Christmas decorations.

21- Gingerbread house

ジンジャーブレッド・ハウス
jinjābureddo hausu

According to legend, the gingerbread house synonymous with Christmas is related to Christ’s birth place, Bethlehem. Bethlehem literally means ‘House of Bread’. Over centuries, it has become a popular treat over Christmas time in many non-religious households as well.

22- Candy cane

キャンディケイン
kyandī kein

According to folklore, Christmas candy canes made their appearance first in Germany in the 16th century. A choir master gave children the candy canes to suck on in church in order to keep them quiet during the Christmas sermon! Apparently, the candy is shaped like a cane in remembrance of the shepherds who were the first to visit the baby Jesus. Today, like gingerbread houses, they are still a popular sweet over the festive season!

23- Mistletoe

ヤドリギ
yadorigi

Mistletoe is a parasitic plant that grows on certain trees. In the Middle Ages, it was believed that the mistletoe has magical powers, and could protect a household from evil if hung above a door during December. The belief didn’t last but the habit did, and the mistletoe is another popular Christmas decoration!

4. Twelve Days of Christmas

Twelve Days of Christmas

Wow, you’re doing extremely well! You know how to wish someone a Merry Christmas in Japanese, and you learned pertinent vocabulary too! The Twelve Days of Christmas is not very well known in modern times, so, you’re on your way to becoming an expert in Christmas traditions and rituals. Well done!

The Twelve Days of Christmas, also known as Twelvetide, is a traditional festive period of 12 days dedicated to celebrate the nativity of Christ. Christmas Day is, for many who observe Twelvetide, the first day of this period.

‘The Twelve Days of Christmas’ is also a popular Christmas song about a series of gifts given on each day of Twelvetide. According to experts, these gifts were created as a coded reference to important symbols in the Christian church. Here is a list of those gifts mentioned in the song! Do you recognise them?

5. Top 10 Christmas Characters in American Culture

Top 10 Christmas Characters

This is fantastic, you know how to explain almost everything about Christmas in Japanese! However, do you know the most popular Christmas characters in American culture? Your knowledge will not be complete without this list.

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Must Know Golden Week Vocabulary

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Click here to listen to the audio pronunciation!

Golden week is almost here! In few days it will be the beginning of the Golden week, the longest public holiday in Japan.

It’s an exciting moment for a lot of people as it’s the period for some time off and to fully enjoy Spring. Here is the list of Top Words you need to know for your holidays!

1. Traffic jam

渋滞 (じゅうたい)

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2. Warm

暖かい (あたたかい)

3. Golden Week holidays

ゴールデンウィーク

4. Chimaki

ちまき

http://41.media.tumblr.com/c6ce5cef762be5404e1d14eaa055592a/tumblr_inline_o67zqytYGu1tqv1ik_500.jpg

5. Constitution Day

憲法記念日 (Constitution Day)

6. Kashiwamochi

柏餅 (かしわもち)

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7. Greenery Day

みどりの日 (みどりのひ)

8. Children’s Day

子供の日 (こどものひ)

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9. Trip abroad

海外旅行 (かいがいりょこう)

10. Doll for the Boys’ Festival in May

五月人形 (ごがつ にんぎょう)

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11. Traveling

旅行 (りょこう)

12. Koinobori

鯉のぼり(こいのぼり)

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    Click Here to Learn Golden Week words with FREE Audio Pronunciation!

    8 Extreme places to visit in Japan

    Click here to discover 30 travel phrases you should know!

    If you are looking for exceptional and exciting places in Japan, here is a list of spots not to miss. Some places on the list are difficult to access, or even forbidden.

    1. 青ヶ島。- Aogashima.

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    The island is located 358 kilometers to the south of Tokyo. It is the smallest village in Japan. It is a volcanic island 3.5 km in length and 2.5 km in width that was formed from the remains of several calderas. The island is one of the most mysterious islands and has a beautiful natural environment. It is worth visiting at least once in a lifetime!

    2. 軍艦島。- Gunkanjima.

    http://41.media.tumblr.com/80a7060ce9db67a91d425b065df0909b/tumblr_inline_o5lrtf9cJS1tqv1ik_1280.png

    Once the most densely populated place in the world, the small island of Hashima, commonly known as Gunkanjima (or “Battleship Island”), is now a ghost island. The island floats off the coast of Nagasaki in Japan. It has become a tourist attraction with trips around the island on offer, but has also been a backdrop for many films.

    3. ドリームランド。- Dreamland.

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    Dreamland is an abandoned theme park in Nara, with all its roller-coasters and rides still standing. It closed permanently in 2006 because of low visitor numbers caused by the popularity of Tokyo Disneyland and Universal Studios Japan. It is a private place and access is forbidden, though some people visit it by jumping over the fences.

    4. 富士急ハイランド。- Fuji-Q Highland.

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    This is another theme park, but it remains open. It is located near the base of Mount Fuji, and will guarantee you some thrills, with two of the biggest haunted mansions and, above all, roller-coasters ranked as the biggest and fastest in the world.

    5. 地獄谷野猿公苑。- Jigokudani Monkey Park.

    http://40.media.tumblr.com/3f124ebf1624ac0bbcc9f9eb5140b46c/tumblr_inline_o5lsa5C1E61tqv1ik_1280.jpg

    This monkey park located in Nagano prefecture is famous for its large population of wild Japanese macaques, which are also referred to as snow monkeys. It is a popular tourist spot and also easy to access. You can watch the monkeys relaxing in hot springs. Don’t forget to ask them before joining!

    6. 与那国島。- Yonaguni-jima.

    http://41.media.tumblr.com/141f37d50bc20962d53d8ac85a657ab3/tumblr_inline_o5lsde4Lwo1tqv1ik_1280.jpg

    This is the westernmost inhabited island of Japan. Here, you can go diving and see submerged stone structures and ruins of a Japanese atlantis, an ancient city sunk by an earthquake about 2,000 years ago.

    7. 立山黒部アルペンルート。- Tateyama Kurobe Alpine Route.

    http://36.media.tumblr.com/5aac6ee9e812875a70f27096ee0d2567/tumblr_inline_o5lsfey2ML1tqv1ik_1280.jpg

    You may have seen images of mountain roads locked between great snow walls. This route is a famous mountain sightseeing route between Toyama and Nagano prefecture. The route is just 37 km in length, but the vertical elevation is as high as 1,975m!

    8. 目黒寄生虫館。- Meguro Parasitological Museum.

    http://40.media.tumblr.com/3f62210ab4d5b2b92ef7374d7c57c721/tumblr_inline_o5lshdmWEl1tqv1ik_1280.jpg

    For another kind of experience, this surprising museum will give you chills for sure. The museum displays some 300 samples of 45,000 parasites collected. And you will be able to buy great gifts for your loved ones.

    Click here to access the top 30 travels phrases lesson for FREE!

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    Click Here to Learn Japanese Quotes with FREE Audio Pronunciation!

    Why Sapporo is my favorite city in Japan

    Why Sapporo is my favorite city in Japan

    わや*!That was a hard decision to make Kyushu? Okinawa? South Korea? Taiwan? No… I made it to Hokkaido and have to start this article by talking about Salmon Ikura Don (raw salmon with salmon fish eggs on rice that I ate in Sapporo), in honor of the best dish I’ve ever eaten.

    First, If you want to travel in Japan and don’t know where to start, I suggest you to take a look at this list: here

    So…why Sapporo?
    Well, my two closest Japanese friends are living there… What better reason to fly north?

    First of all, I love big cities. Tokyo is massive and I enjoy it. However, I’m still a Swiss girl from the Alps… So I was actually really excited about this trip. The image I had of Sapporo is pretty similar to the one foreigners can have of Switzerland, I guess.

    There are a few things you should know about Sapporo. It’s not only a beer brand, this is also the fifth largest city in Japan, and almost 2 million people live there! The 1972 Winter Olympic Games were hosted there and it’s famous for its yearly Snow Festival as well.

    Now let me tell you why the capital of Hokkaido Prefecture has became my favorite city in Japan, and how I managed to escape from the real world for 4 whole days (I didn’t even realize that Google had a new logo!)

  • Incredible Atmosphere
  • I’ve lived in Canada, England, and Switzerland and have been able to travel around, including to Japan. But Sapporo has something that other cities clearly don’t have! There is still that urban vibe with areas such as Susukino, as well as a Western touch with the Former Hokkaido Government office and the area around that building.

    The enormous park around the Hokkaido University reminded me of those I could relax in when in was in Toronto. The Maryuyama Park area has many bakeries, small cafės, and restaurants. I would describe this spot as fancy but cosy at the same time.

  • Beautiful Natural Surroundings
  • It is part of the atmosphere, but it needs its own paragraph. My friend took me to Mount Moiwa and the night view was breathtaking… Sapporo is a large city, so seeing all those lights sparkling from the mountain was magical, and I will simply never forget it.
    It might seem insignificant, but the city is full of flowers and greenery, and this is what is missing in Tokyo. Almost every sidewalk has colorful flowers, and you can also find them in parks and even outside people’s front doors. It’s a small detail but it makes a big difference.
    My other friend took me to Otaru, which is by the seaside north of Sapporo. It’s a small and picturesque city intersected by a river and many small boutiques.

    Finally, wherever you are in Sapporo, if the weather isn’t foggy, you can see mountains! It really reminds me of where I am from. Now I can’t wait to go back to Hokkaido during the winter time and enjoy the snow up there!

    Mount Moiwa

  • Kind People
  • The hospitality in Japan is no secret. But in Hokkaido, I was touched by the people’s kindness, generosity, and enthusiasm. I guess life is more peaceful there, so everyone takes the time to do whatever they have to. I felt relaxed from the beginning to the end. And of course, I am so thankful to my friends who were my reason for spending my precious time there.

  • Delicious Food
  • I started with food and I am ending with food. If you do love Japanese cuisine, this is a no-brainer – you just have to go to Sapporo. Curry soup is famous there. I also had the chance to eat えび味噌ラーメン (ebi miso ramen)、うに (uni), and 鮭 いくら 丼 (salmon ikura don), which as you know tasted like heaven.
    If you like cheese and milk, you won’t be disappointed in Hokkaido – just trust the girl from Switzerland, AKA ‘cheese land.’
    Food quality isn’t a problem in Sapporo, and the prices are affordable too.

    Salmon Ikura Don

    If you want to know more about Japanese food, check out this audio lesson: The 5 most popular foods in Japan

    Before visiting this northern part of Japan, I’d heard many times that Sapporo was a great city to live in. Now I totally understand why and if you are planning to go to Japan, drop by Hokkaido, because you can find pretty good deals online to get there ;)

    * わや waya is popular slang meaning ヤバイ (yabai) in Hokkaido-ben.

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    Must-Know Japanese Holiday Words: Bean-Throwing Ceremony

    Click here to check out the lesson for free and learn more about this holiday!

    Click on the video below to learn about Setsubun for FREE!

    Setsubun (the Bean-Throwing Ceremony) is celebrated on February 3rd in Japan. Can you talk about this holiday in Japanese?

    In this special Weekly Words lesson, Risa will teach you about the customs and vocabulary related to Setsubun.

    You can also get the lesson notes, review the vocabulary and try fun quizzes on our lesson page.
    >> Click here to visit the lesson page on JapanesePod101!

    Want to find out more about Setsubun?
    >> Check out our FREE advanced video on JapanesePod101!

    Are there any events like Setsubun in your country? Let us know in the comments!

    Golden Week in Japan PLUS Exclusive Discount!

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    Golden Week has started! In Japan, almost everyone gets the week off from work - even us! As a student of Japanese, you should enjoy Golden Week too! We can’t give you days off of work or school, but we can offer you an Instant 28% OFF 1-year Premium subscription at JapanesePod101.com.

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    So what is Golden Week exactly? At the end of April/beginning of May, 4 national holidays fall within the workweek. This gives everyone a super long weekend. In Japan, Golden Week is synonymous with travel - both domestic and international. The Shinkansen trains are super crowded and hotel reservations are impossible to find. To learn more about Golden Week, listen to these Golden Week audio lessons:

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    Learn Japanese Culture - Valentine’s Day in Japan

    Many of our readers are probably familiar with Valentine’s Day, and even celebrate it in their home country. Valentine’s Day probably conjures up images of hearts, red roses, Valentine candy, and maybe even the cute little Valentine’s Day cards you used to exchange in elementary school.

     But do you know how Valentine’s Day works in Japan? The Japanese Valentine’s Day has its own set of unique customs and rules that set it apart from the holiday celebrated around the world.

     First of all, while in western countries it is common for both men and women to give gifts on Valentine’s Day, in Japan, the gift-giving is left strictly to the women. Girls and women give chocolate (either handmade or store-bought) to a significant other or someone they are interested in. Surprisingly, though, women do not give chocolate only to that special someone they are interested in romantically, which is known as 本命チョコ (honmei choko, “chocolate for someone special”). There is also a tradition of giving chocolate to platonic male friends, co-workers, and bosses. This chocolate is given out of obligation, which is reflected in the name, 義理チョコ (giri choko, “obligation chocolate”).

    So, do the girls walk away with nothing, you may wonder? Not quite. Lately on Valentine’s Day, many women decide to give chocolate to their female friends, which is known as
    友チョコ(tomo-choko, “friend chocolate”), or even buy chocolate for themselves, known as マイチョコ (mai-choko, “my chocolate”). The main event for women, however, takes place on March 14th, one month after Valentine’s Day. This marks White Day, a day where men give chocolate back to the women they received chocolate from a month earlier. White Day was created by the Japanese National Confectionary Industry Association in 1980 as a way to sell more sweets such as candies. Surprisingly, gifts of flowers, non-chocolate candies, and dinner dates that are strongly associated with Valentine’s Day in Western countries are uncommon in Japan.

     What do you think about the Japanese way of celebrating Valentine’s Day? What kind of Valentine’s Day traditions do you celebrate in your country?

    Japanese Holidays: Kinrou kansha no hi ”Labor Thanksgiving Day”

    In Japan, November 23rd is a National Holiday called 勤労感謝の日(Kinrou kansha no hi) which means Labor Thanksgiving Day.  This holiday was originally a national festival called “Niinamesai” meaning “Harvest Festival.” At the festival, the emperor dedicated the year’s harvest to the Shinto Gods and ate it to celebrate the harvest of that year. Read the rest of this post »

    Japanese Holidays: Health and Sports Day(体育の日)

    The second Monday in October is a national holiday called “Health and Sports Day”, which is known as “Taiiku no hi” (体育の日) in Japanese. It falls on October 12th this year.

    The first Health and Sports Day was held on October 10, 1966, two years after the 1964 Tokyo Olympics, to commemorate the Olympics which started on October 10 of that year. This holiday was held on October 10 until 1999, and in 2000, it was moved to the second Monday in October as part of the Happy Monday system. (Because of this sytem, some National holidays were moved to Monday to make three-day weekends.)

    This holiday is a day to promote sports and physical and mental health. Some sports facilities discount or drop their fees, and many schools hold their sports festivals on this day.  These sports festivals are called “undōkai” (運動会) in Japanese.  This is a big annual event for school kids and their families. They usually do track events such as a relay or a sprint race, or fun events such as three-legged races, ball games, and so on.  Parents and/or grandparents of the children partcipating come to see them at the event, bringing lunch from home and eating it together as a family on the field. Some parents line up early in the morning in order to secure a good spot to see their kids.

    Here are some lessons we have that are about Health and Sports Day or Sports day.  Please check them out!

    Japanese Culture Class #28 - Health and Sports Day
    Audio Blog #57 - Sports Day Memories
    Lower Intermediate Lesson #33 - Sports Day
    Upper Intermediate Lesson S2 #14 - Battle of the Classes 1
    Upper Intermediate Lesson S2 #15: Battle of the Classes 2
    Upper Intermediate Lesson S2 #16 - Battle of the Classes 3