Ancestor's New Year



Ancestors New Year (Hotoke Shoogatsu)

***** Location: Japan
***** Season: New Year
***** Category: Season


Here, HOTOKE means the ancestors, not Buddha.

First visit to the ancestor's graves.
During the first three days of the New Year, there is no ancestor worship.
This is an important ritual and often takes place on January 16 or 18. People visit temples and graveyards to say prayers and put incense on the graves. At home in the Family Buddha Altar (butsudan) they offer New Year's Soup (zooni) in small cups to the ancestors.

In some areas this is January 4 or as late as January 20.

In some areas of the island of Shikoku, there is a special day in December (tatsumi no hi), called "Ancestor's New Year". This implies the LAST service of the year for the ancestors.

This day corresponds to the Ancestor Worship during the O-Bon Ceremonies and rituals and is very important. Nowadays, Ancestor Worship concentrated during O-Bon and merrymaking (happy new year style) during O-Shoogatsu New Year.

Let us look at the related kigo:

Hotoke Shoogatsu 仏正月 (ほとけしょうがつ)
..... hotoke no shoogatsu 仏の正月(ほとけのしょうがつ)
day of the ancestors, hotoke no hi 仏の日(ほとけのひ)

ancestors passing into the new year, hotoke no toshikoshi

hotoke no kuchi ake 仏の口明(ほとけのくちあけ)
nenbutsu no kuchi ake 念仏の口明(ねんぶつのくちあけ)

New Year of the Ancestors, sensoo shoogatsu

Beginning of the Temple Year, tera nenshi
Temples are the places where the ancestor worship usually takes place.

Worldwide use

Things found on the way


hitori kite Hotoke no shoogatsu gake arashi

I came alone
for the Ancestor's New Year -
these wild cliffs

Minamoto Onihiko 源 鬼彦
Tr. Gabi Greve

Japanese haiku collection about stones, walls, cliffe and more

Related words

*****Dead body, deceased person, corpse (hotoke)
Death Poems, Death Haiku

***** Little New Year .. ko shoogatsu (January 15)

***** New Year (shinnen, shin nen, shoogatsu) Worldwide

***** New Year Ceremonies of Japan
......... A topical Saijiki


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