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Category: Japanese Holidays 

Joya no Kane: Purify Yourself With This Episode (Ep. 139)

Joya no Kane is the Buddhism tradition of ringing out the old year and ringing in the new one. Where did it come from and what does it mean?
Artist's hand drawing a serene Japanese landscape with a bell tower and rising sun, symbolizing 'Joya no Kane,' a traditional end-of-year bell-ringing ceremony, on a sketchpad, with watercolors and a brush, against a backdrop of artistic tools.

Shochikubai: Pine, Bamboo, Plum and Samurai Shade (Ep. 138)

Shochikubai means "pine, bamboo, plum" and are considered the three winter friends. You'll find them in New Year decorations as well as another interesting and surprising place. I'll tell more on today's show.
Traditional Japanese shochikubai painting with calligraphy on a sketchpad, featuring plum blossoms, pine, and bamboo, the symbols of perseverance, longevity, and flexibility, alongside an ink stone and brushes, indicating an artistic setting.

Enjoying the Luck of the Seven Lucky Gods (Shichifukujin) (Ep. 68)

In Japan the Shichifukujin or Seven Lucky Gods appear in a boat on the first day of the year to impart various kinds of luck on those they deem worthy.
Shichi Fukujin (Seven Lucky Gods)

Toshikoshi Soba: Breaking Off the Pain of 2020 with Noodles (Ep. 66)

Toshikoshi soba is the Japanese tradition of eating soba noodles on New Year's Eve. It's a custom that has continued since the 1700s. There are quite a few reasons why, some have to do with long life, wealth, and breaking off all the hardships from the previous year.
Show Daruma Eating Soba

Bon Odori: Dancing with the Dead (Ep. 58)

Bon Odori or Bon Dancing is a summer tradition held all over Japan. It's a chance for families to get together and have an enjoyable time dancing to the rhythmical music. Seeing as how the Obon season is also when ancestors visit from beyond the grave, they, too, can take part in the festivities if they wish.
Bon Dancing

Star-Crossed Lovers (Tanabata) (Ep. 55)

Tanabata is a Japanese festival based on the bizarre tale of two star-crossed lovers, Orihime and Hikoboshi. I'll tell you their story and explain a little about the origins and how it's celebrated today.
Tanabata ukiyoe with woman and baby

Children’s Day Iris Baths and Golden Boys (Shobuyu and Kintaro) (Ep. 51)

On May 5th people all across Japan celebrate Children's Day or Kodomo no Hi. It might not be a normal year, but if you look out your veranda you can possibly see some carp streamer (koi nobori). One of the ways to celebrate is with an iris bath or shoubu-yu. It's purported to make you strong like a samurai. Another way to celebrate is for boys to set out a fancy doll. Kintaro is often found in houses all over Japan. He's also big and strong like a samurai.

Auspicious Cuisine (Osechi Ryori) (Ep. 45)

Osechi is Japan's New Year's cuisine that includes such delicacies as herring wrapped in kelp and tied with gourd strings (nori maki), dried and candied anchovies (tazukuri), and golden sweet potato and chestnut mash (kurikinton).
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About The Uncanny Japan Podcast

Speculative fiction writer, long-term resident of Japan and Bram Stoker Award finalist Thersa Matsuura explores all that is weird from old Japan—strange superstitions, folktales, cultural oddities, and interesting language quirks. These are little treasures she digs up while doing research for her writing.

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