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What do people do in Japan on the winter solstice?

What do people do in Japan on the winter solstice?

Date published: 30 September 2020

In the Northern Hemisphere, the day when the sun is at its lowest elevation and with the shortest daylight hours of the year is called the "winter solstice." In that case, today, December 22, is the winter solstice in the Northern Hemisphere this year.

I think in different countries, people might have other ways to spend the "winter solstice." So what will people do in Japan on this day?

In ancient Japan, people regarded the winter solstice as "the sun's power getting weak, the day that death is impending." Hence activities and customs of "removing disasters and ill fortune" were developed, passed down to now.

Then, let's get right to the point and introduce to you what people do on the winter solstice in modern Japan.

In the past, food was not as plentiful as it is now, so people preserved the summer vegetable pumpkin well until winter. Eating pumpkin in winter would warm up your body, then people could spend (get through) winter, and this is with the meaning of removing disasters and ill-fortune.
Also, since pumpkin is nutritious, it can prevent you from cold or stroke.

In the past, food was not as plentiful as it is now, so people preserved the summer vegetable pumpkin well until winter. Eating pumpkin in winter would warm up your body, then people could spend (get through) winter, and this is with the meaning of removing disasters and ill-fortune.

In the lunisolar calendar in ancient China, the winter solstice was regarded as the day that "Yin qi ends while Yang qi returns." Ichiyoraifuku (一陽来復) conveys precisely the same meaning, and it also has the meaning of "The end of winter and the beginning of spring" or "The end of bad things and the beginning of good things (After a storm comes a calm)."

Therefore, from the winter solstice to the Setsubun (Feb. 3rd) the next year, some shrines will hand out the "一陽来復" good-luck charms.

In Tokyo, you can get an "ichiyoraifuku (一陽来復)" good-luck charm from the most famous Anahachiman-gu Shrine for only 800 yen ♪
*The price varies from shrines.

In addition, in Anahachiman-gu Shrine, the God of Wealth is enshrined and worshipped, so the "一陽来復" good-luck charms here also have the effect of enhancing the fortune in wealth!

① Anahachiman-gu Shrine: 2-1-11, Nishiwaseda, Shinjuku Ward, Tokyo
② Yokosu-jinjya: 5, Sugacho, Shinjuku Ward, Tokyo
③ Mizuinari-jinjya: 3-5-43, Nishiwaseda, Shinjuku Ward, Tokyo

Finally, let me also introduce to you a superb scenery that can only be seen on the winter solstice. In the Ise-jingu Shrine (Mie prefecture), which is also famous for sightseeing, in the morning of the winter solstice from the torii here you can see the sun rising slowly!

Please be sure to spend a Japanese style winter solstice and enjoy the day happily!


Illustrations courtesy of Manga de Japan

*This information is from the time of this article's publication.
*Prices and options mentioned are subject to change.
*Unless stated otherwise, all prices include tax.

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