Omisoka (大晦日)

"Omisoka" (New Year's Eve) means the last day of a year. Under Japanese lunisolar calendars such as the Tenpo-reki (the Tenpo calendar), Omisoka is either December 30 (lunar calendar) or 29 (lunar calendar). Under the current Gregorian calendar (a solar calendar), it falls on December 31.

Omisoka is also called "otsugomori."

In Japan, various events are held to welcome the toshigami (the god of the incoming year).

Origins of Omisoka

Under the lunar calendar, the last day of each month was called "misoka." Of these misoka days, the last one in a year - in other words, the last day of December (or the intercalary twelfth month) - was referred to as "Omisoka." Originally, "miso" meant "thirty," and "misoka" meant "the thirtieth day." However, misoka could fall on the 29th day of a month, due to the varying number of days per month in different years. Today, under the solar calendar, Omisoka refers to December 31.

Omisoka is also called "otsugomori."
The term 'Tsugomori' was modified from 'tsuki-gomori' (literally, "hiding moon") and is synonymous with 'misoka.'

Omisoka Events

On Omisoka, various events are held to see out the old year. The night when the old year is seen out is also called "joya." Formerly, people used to stay awake during the night of joya to welcome the god of the incoming year, due to a superstition that they might get gray hair or wrinkles if they went to bed at an early hour that night.

The following are traditional customs observed on Omisoka:

Toshikoshi-soba (buckwheat noodles eaten on New Year's Eve)

Joya no Kane (bells ringing out the old year)

Ninen-mairi or hatsu-mode (the practice of visiting a shrine or temple at the beginning of the new year)

Regional Omisoka Events

Namahage (Oga City, Akita Prefecture) (folkloric demons of the Oga Peninsula that pay frightening visits to children on New Year's.)

Television programs

Since Omisoka is the day just before the new year, in many cases, entire families gather together. For that reason, many special programs aimed at happy family circles are aired on TV, and are now a charming feature of the Omisoka season.
The following are representative examples:

NHK Kohaku Utagassen (the NHK year-end grand song festival) (a general TV program aired by the Japan Broadcasting Corporation, NHK)

Yuku-toshi Kuru-toshi (the old year and the new year) (an NHK general TV program)

Nippon no Uta (songs of Japan) (affiliated with Television Tokyo)

Tokyu Silvester Concert (affiliated with Television Tokyo)

Doraemon (the name of a popular cartoon character from a 1979 animated TV program) (affiliated with Television Asahi)

The Omoshiro News Grandprix (affiliated with Television Asahi)

The Martial Arts Event "K-1 PREMIUM Dynamite!!" (affiliated with TBS Television)

THE JAPAN RECORD AWARD (affiliated with TBS Television), which aired on New Year's Eve until 2005. Since 2006, it has been broadcast on December 30.

Last Call with Carson Daly (NBC)

Dick Clark's New Year's Rockin' Eve (American Broadcasting Company)

Koten Rakugo (classical comic storytelling) on the subject of Omisoka

Kaketori-manzai (a classic comic story)

Shibahama (a classic comic story)

[Original Japanese]