Monday, 13 January 2014

Know Japan before you Visit the Country

If you like travelling, and want to visit an interesting country, then the best place would be Japan. Many of us have misconceptions about the country of Japan as we think that is only a country where tradition exists. However, along with traditions and customs the people of Japan are extremely modernised. The country is the tech capital of the world but is also rooted in their history. If you want to visit Japan, it is extremely necessary that you study the country and its people before you reach your destination.

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The country of Japan is picturesque and exudes culture blended with modernity. The temples and shrines will give you an extremely spiritual feeling and the castles will take you back in history. Also, it is very important to know the kind of lives the people of Japan lead. The people of Japan are essentially busy and hardworking, the busy streets and train stations are proof of this fact. They are also extremely keen on fashion and you will seldom find a poorly dressed person on the streets of Japan.

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The Japanese lifestyle is a combination of following old customs and new trends. Japan could be really advanced in technology but there still are customs they follow like taking off shoes before entering the house. If you want to blend in to the Japanese culture, it is best to read up on the country and its people on a Japanese lifestyle blog. The city is always bustling with energy but the Japanese do go on weekend trips to take some time off in some peace and quiet.

A weekend getaway to hot spring resorts or onsen ryokans is a fabulous way they let their hair down. The warm water of the hot springs is tremendously relaxing and the comfort and delicious cuisine available at the ryokans is really something to look forward to. Another thing that Japanese people can’t do without are Japanese convenience stores or Konbini. These stores have become an integral part of Japanese life. These stores sell a lot of interesting and useful items like tea, puddings, eye masks, make-up items, various other sorts of edible items, etc.

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Life in Japan is extremely busy and the country is full of fun things to do. So, if you want to gear up to visit Japan, it is essential to read up on the country and also the lifestyle of the people. You can refer to a Japanese lifestyle blog or even read travel books.

Wednesday, 1 January 2014

Japanese New Year: Modernised yet Traditional

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Japan may be the tech capital of the world and highly advanced but the people of Japan still follow many traditions around the New Year. Japanese New Year celebrations may differ from the way the day is celebrated in other places around the world as there are various customs that the people follow which are inherently Japanese.

Importance of Food on New Year’s in Japan

Toshi-koshi Soba
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Food is a very important part of New Year celebrations and a certain kind of food is prepared and eaten during the New Year celebration that start on the 1st of January and continue till the 3rd of January. Different kinds of food items are prepared on these days and families feast together. Usually things get started on New Year’s Eve and as the Shinto bell rings at midnight, the festivities begin. On this day, toshi-koshi soba, a traditional Japanese delicacy is prepared. This dish basically comprises fish broth, soba noodles, solidified fish paste or kameboko, mirin and soy sauce. Each bowl of this noodle soup also comprises a deep fried prawn.

New Year’s breakfast is also something to watch out for as traditionally they are extremely elaborate and time consuming. But these days, people mostly keep it simple by having miso soup and mochi.

A New Year Tradition that isn’t Dead Yet

Osechi Ryori
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New Year in Japan is almost synonymous with Osechi ryori. Osechi ryori is a box that consists of traditional delicacies and sweets. These boxes are usually bought because it isn’t considered auspicious to cook on the first day of the New Year. The box has a lot of goodies like sweet black beans, rolled cakes, small fish, sweet egg, large prawns, etc.

The first day of the year begins by people watching the first sunrise and then digging into a light breakfast as the meals of the day are heavy. On the 2nd, family usually come over for a meal to the main family home and feast on things like crab, pork, etc. People of Japan also believe in eating ‘lucky’ food for the New Year like red snapper, shrimp, etc.

Few Other Traditions

Meiji Shrine
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People also visit the Meiji shrine and other important shrines during the first three days of the New Year. They also engage themselves in activities like Hanetsuki or Japanese badminton, karuta which is a card game and takoage or kite flying.

No matter how modernised Japan has become, most families still follow age old traditions. The New Year holds a lot of significance to Japanese families.