End of the Year activities


End of the Year Activities

***** Location: Japan
***** Season: Mid-Winter
***** Category: Humanity


There are many activities in Japan before the year can be ended safely.
More activities are related to ceremonies, they are listed in the saijiki LINK given below.
Here let us look at some of these kigo from the category HUMANITY.

preparations for the New Year, toshi yooi
年用意 (としようい)

..... toshi mooke 年設(としもうけ), toshi no mooke 年の設(としのもうけ)
toshi torimono 年取物(としとりもの)
spring preparations, haru jitaku 春支度(はるじたく)
Spring was identical to the New Year according to the Lunar Calendar.


CLICK for original LINK
Year End Cleaning in Edo

cleaning at the end of the year
kure no sooji, kure no oo sooji くれのそおじ
Spring cleaning in other parts of the world.
This is taken most seriously, the dirt of this year has to go within this year!

cleaning off soot, susu harai susuharai 煤払 (すすはらい)
..... susu haki 煤掃(すすはき), susu oroshi 煤おろし(すすおろし)
day for cleaning, susu no hi 煤の日(すすのひ)
This was done not only at home but in temples and shrines too. With long bamboo poles and sakaki sacred branches the bad influences of the passing year, the vicious demons hiding somewhere in the corners and the roof beams, were cleared away, together with the real soot.

bamboo for cleaning, susu dake 煤竹(すすだけ)
seller for cleaning bamboo, susudake uri 煤竹売(すすだけうり)
susu gomori 煤籠(すすごもり)
hiding from cleaning activities, susu nige
bath after cleaning, susu yu 煤湯(すすゆ)
bright dayt for cleaning, susu biyori 煤日和(すすびより)

. take uri 竹売り cleaning babmoo vendors in Edo .

"soot of this year", toshi no susu 年の煤(としのすす)
visit during cleaning season, susu mimai 煤見舞(すすみまい)
eating mochi during cleaning season, susu no mochi

The female Deity of the New Year likes her new place to be clean and tidy.
. "Deity of the Year" toshitokujin 歳德神 .

tabine shite mishi ya ukiyo no susu harai

. Matsuo Basho 松尾芭蕉 - Archives of the WKD .

. Kobayashi Issa 小林一茶 cleaning soot collection .


changing the tatami mats (for clean ones)
tatami gae 畳替 たたみがえ kaedatami 替畳(かえだたみ)

"forget the old year", toshi wasure 年忘 (としわすれ)
party to forget the old year, boonenkai 忘年会(ぼうねんかい)

preparing New Year food, setchi ryoo mono
節料物 (せちりょうもの)
sechiryoo 節料(せちりょう)、setsu ryoo せつりょう
toshitori mono年取物(としとりもの)、
rice as food for the New Year, sechiryoo mai 節料米(せちりょうまい)
toshitori mai 年取米(としとりまい), 
toshi no kome 年の米(としのこめ)

collecting money for the poor, shakai nabe 社会鍋 (しゃかいなべ)
... jizen nabe 慈善鍋(じぜんなべ)

last payment of the year, kakegoi 掛乞 かけごい
kaketori 掛取(かけとり)
kakidashi書出し(かきだし), tsuke付け(つけ)

. kayoi choo通ひ帳 credit account book .
in the Edo period

giving new robes to the servants, kinu kubari 衣配 (きぬくばり)

giving Year End money or presents,
seibo iwai 歳暮祝 (せいぼいわい)

..... seibo 歳暮(せいぼ)、oseibo お歳暮(おせいぼ)
seibo no rei 歳暮の礼(せいぼのれい),
seibo gaeshi歳暮返し(せいぼがえし)
seibo uridashi 歳暮売出(せいぼうりだし)

writing greeting cards, gajoo kaku 賀状書く (がじょうかく)

buying a new diary, nikki kau 日記買う( にっきかう)
old diary, furu nikki 古日記 (ふるにっき)
nikki hatsu 日記果つ(にっきはつ)


CLICK for more photos
seller of new calendars, koyomi uri 暦売 (こよみうり)
koyomi kubari 暦配り(こよみくばり)
old calendar, furu goyomi 古暦 (ふるごよみ)
koyomi hatsu 暦果つ(こよみはつ), koyomi no hate 暦の果(こよみのはて)
koyomi no owari 暦の終(こよみのおわり) end of the calendar
... koyomi no sue 暦の末(こよみのすえ)
- CALENDAR - - -kigo for the New Year

source and more dolls : page.freett.com/honeythehaniwa

The vendor usually wore a hand towel (tenugui) around the head and had a furoshiki cotton wrapper with their merchandise on the back. Most of them were old men. Since the season was very short, it would not feed the man during the whole year.

They started walking around in Edo since the 11th lunar month and sold small long calendars to hang on the wall or a home pillar (hashiragoyomi 柱暦). They showed the whole year on one page and could be stuck to a pillar of the home for easy viewing.

. Doing Business in Edo .

Many calendar vendors lived in
. Tōriabura-chō 通油町 Toriaburacho District .

koyomi uru monzenmachi no furu honya

the used bookstore
of the temple town
sells calendars

Tsuchiya Kyooko 土屋孝子 Tsuchiya Kyoko


last market dealings, shimai sooba 終相場 (しまいそうば)
last business, goyoo osame, goyoo osame 御用納 ごようおさめ
..... goyoo jimai 御用終(ごようじまい)
last work, shigoto osame 仕事納(しごとおさめ)


packing away the axes, ono jimai 斧仕舞 (おのじまい )
forest care was in important part, and during the new year holidays there was a rest period.
Forest workers make offerings of food and Sake to the Deity of the Mountain (Yama no Kami 山の神) and thank them for a year without accidents.

. Ta no Kami, Yama no Kami .


CLICI for more Kadomatsu decorations
putting up decorations at the entrance, kadomatsu tatsu
門松立つ (かどまつたつ)
matsu kazaru 松飾る(まつかざる),
kadomatsu no itonami 門松の営(かどまつのいとなみ)
kadomatsu as New Year kigo

Straw Shimekazari
putting up sacred straw decorations,
shime kazaru 注連飾る (しめかざる)
"one night decorations" ichiya kazari 一夜飾り(いちやかざり)
(shimenawa 注連縄)

cutting fern (for New Year decorations)
shida gari 歯朶刈 しだかり

fencing off the graves, haka kakou 墓囲う (はかかこう)
to protect them from the fierce northern winds.

December Singers, Twelfth Month Singers (sekizoro)
Year End Singers . sekizoro 節季候
..... sekkizoro せっきぞろ
..... female singers, old ladies, ubara 姥等 うばら
..... hitting the breasts, mune tataki 胸敲 むねたたき


paying the last taxes, nengu osame
年貢納 (ねんぐおさめ)
tax payment, nengu 年貢(ねんぐ)
rice as tax payment, nengu mai 年貢米(ねんぐまい)
horses as tax payment, nengu uma 年貢馬(ねんぐうま)
Nengumai Rice Barrels
Rice barrels as tax payment
This was especially important in the Edo period.
Taxes (nengu) and their KIGO

Year End Sales, nenmatsu toosoo 年末闘争 (ねんまつとうそう)

Year End Bonus, nenmatsu shooyo 年末賞与 (ねんまつしょうよ)
..... boonasu ボーナス、nenmatsu teate 年末手当(ねんまつてあて)
etsunen shikin 越年資金(えつねんしきん)
etsutoo shikin 越冬資金(えっとうしきん)

winter holidays 冬休 (ふゆやすみ) fuyu yasumi
"holidays for the Year End", nenmatsu kyuuka


observance kigo for mid-winter

. roojitsu 臘日 (ろうじつ) last day of the year   
Activities done on the last day of the year.

Worldwide use

Things found on the way

My SEIBOO Year End present 2008

A whole salmon from Hokkaido

02 seibo present

03 the fish END

a first taste
of things to come ...
salmon steak

Gabi Greve, December 2008


. hanjitsu wa kami o tomo ni ya toshi wasure .
half a day with the deities

Matsuo Basho and the Shinto Deities

- - - - -

uo tori no kokoro wa shirazu toshi wasure

how fish and birds
feel at heart, I do not know -
the year-end party

Tr. Ueda

Written in December of 1691 元禄4年師走
Basho stayed for a haikai meeting at the home of
Yamaguchi Sodoo 山口素堂 Yamaguchi Sodo.

This hokku refers to a poem of the Hoojooki 方丈記 Hojoki from the Kamakura period
by Kamo no Chōmei 鴨長明 Kamo no Chomei, My Account of My Hut:


If you are doubtful about what I am saying,
look at the situation of the fish and the birds.
Fish are always in the water, yet they don't become bored with the water. If you are not a fish you probably can't understand that feeling.
Birds hope to live in the forest. If you are not a bird, you probably can't understand that motive.
My feeling about my tranquil residence is of the same kind.
Who can understand this if they haven't tried it?

. Kamo no Choomei 鴨長明 Kamo no Chomei .
( 1153 or 1155–1216) Kamo no Chōmei

- - - - -

hito ni ie o kawasete ware wa toshi wasure

I make him buy a house
for me - now I can
forget the old year

Tr. Gabi Greve

Written in 1690 元禄3年師走
For his disciple in Otsu,
. Kawai Otokuni 川井乙州 .

MORE - hokku about himself by
. Matsuo Basho 松尾芭蕉 - Archives of the WKD .


. WKD : Kobayashi Issa 小林一茶 .

o-nakama ni neko mo zadoru ya toshi-wasure

the cat sits down
as one of us --
year-end party

Tr. Chris Drake

This hokku is from the 12th month (January) in 1820, at the end of the year chronicled in Year of My Life (Oraga haru). Year-end parties held by families, friends, and colleagues were called "year-forgetting" parties, because they were unrestrained and people could have a good time singing, dancing, and drinking until they could get over the negative memories of things that had happened during the year and relive the good memories before going on to the next year.
Issa's beloved young daughter had died in the 6th month, so he had a lot to feel sad about, but he preserved her memory in Year of My Life. In the same way, the party in this hokku is probably less about simple forgetting than about dealing with and confessing one's feelings about negative things that happened and getting a bit of closure. The cat obviously considers itself one of the group, and the feeling seems to be mutual. What psychic wounds from the year does it still carry?
What unspeakable things did it witness?

Chris Drake


yamoudo wa kusuri to iu ya furu-goyomi

mountain man says
it's for wrapping medicine --
this year's old calendar

Tr. Chris Drake

This hokku is from 1824, the same year as Issa's divorce and his hokku about the chrysanthemums in the canola field. It's probably from the end of the 12th month, because "old calendar" is a season word usually referring to a calendar that's almost up. After a person bought a calendar for the new year, usually in the form of a long, folding scroll-like paper between two covers that resembled a small accordion, the current calendar for the rest of the year was regarded as "old" even before New Year's. People were very busy and focused on preparing for New Year's, so they often preferred to skip the yin-yang predictions and other information included on the calendar for each day at the very end of the year -- unless it was an especially lucky day. And the current calendar was of course also a reminder of time past and of the hard work and other hardships many people experienced in the current year, so most people preferred to think about the future and about the good times they'd have at New Year's.

On 12/4 Issa, able to speak once more, returned to his empty home in his hometown after recovering from the shock of being divorced, and apparently he's met a mountain man there who has come down to the valley from his house on a mountain slope nearby to buy provisions and probably to sell something he catches or makes. "Mountain person" (yamoudo) usually refers to someone like a hunter, forester, mountain farmer, or even a potter or blacksmith -- to anyone of either/any gender who lives and works in the mountains, even on a small mountain in the foothills just outside of town.

Mountain people often brought pelts, meat, agricultural produce, crockery, firewood, wood products, and other goods down to market in the valley, and perhaps this mountain man (or woman) is using the money he gets to buy, among other things, a new calendar for the coming new year. He tells Issa he's done with his "old" calendar already and isn't at all interested in reading it for the last few days of the year. Paper was valuable, and he plans to use the folded paper "faces" of the calendar for "medicine" (kusuri). One meaning of kusuri was and still is folded paper used to wrap doses of chopped or ground up herbs to be boiled in a pot and drunk as medicine. That seems to be the meaning of "medicine" here.

The man seems to be either a woodsman who finds, cuts, wraps, and sells mountain herbs to herbal doctors and dealers in town, or he has some kind of ailment and wants to take portions of different herbs back with him to his cabin, where he will boil and drink an herbal broth each day for several days. East Asian herbal medicine was highly developed in Issa's time, and literally hundreds of different herbs could be bought in folded-paper packets and mixed in many different combinations.

Issa seems amused at and respectful of the unashamed way the mountain man puts aside the old year and wholeheartedly embraces the coming year, hoping to be in good health by the time the new year arrives. Over the last four months Issa himself has been drinking a lot of herbal medicine, so he no doubt sympathizes with the mountain man and understands his desire to think about the future and not linger on the hardships of the presently disappearing year.

There is a small possibility that "medicine" refers to gunpowder, another meaning of kusuri. Many mountain men were hunters, so it's conceivable that the man uses a rifle and needs packets for his gunpowder. However, paper for making packets of herbal medicine seems much more likely. The link below shows the most popular way -- even today -- to fold a paper packet for powdered Western-style medicine. Folded paper packets are also still used by herbal doctors.

Chris Drake

LINK - ja.wikipedia.org

山人 - senjin, yamabito, yamoudo


sennen no susu mo harawazu hotoketachi

nobody wipes it off
the soot of a thousand years -
these Buddha stautes

. Masaoka Shiki (正岡子規) .


karendaa gokuchuu ni hari toshi yoo-i

I hang the calendar
in my prison cell -
New Year preparations

We can feel how the prioner wants to escape these white walls and be free again .

Kadokawa Haruki 角川春樹
Tr. Gabi Greve


ring out the old
raised glasses
of warm milk

Bill Kenney, NY 2007

Related words

*****Fern (shida) Japan for the New Year

***** Saijiki of Japanese Ceremonies and Festivals - - WINTER





Anonymous said...

Couldn't resist this just-before-bedtime ku ...

old year ending
I yawn myself
to bed

:0 Ella Wagemakers

Gabi Greve said...

Oh dear, Ella, this is also a way to do it ...

Thanks for the laugh!
And wake up with a smile!


Anonymous said...

Most people have the store deliver the gifts. You can order oseibo gifts at post offices or convenience stores, too. It's also common for people to bring their gifts in person. Oseibo are specifically given to pay back favors received during the year. It's best to send the gifts by the 20th in Japan. Despite it's timing, oseibo gifts are different from Christmas gifts.

The cost of a gift ranges from 3,000 yen to about 20,000 yen, and the average is about 5,000 yen. Popular items for oseibo are ham, cooking oil, gift certificates, beer, canned food, coffee, seasonings, seaweed, seafood, fruits, and so on. The type and cost of gifts depend on your relationship with the recipient. Usually, people give the most expensive gifts to their bosses at work.

On each oseibo gift, the giver needs to put a thin paper called noshi, on which the word "oseibo" is written.

Gabi Greve - Basho archives said...

- Yamaguchi Sodoo 山口素堂 Yamaguchi Sodo -
1642 - 1716.

Gabi Greve - Basho archives said...

Matsuo Basho

setsukarete toshi wasure suru kigen kana

- Basho special -
- toshi no kure 年の暮  end of the year -

Gabi Greve - Basho archives said...

Matsuo Basho

kore ya yo no susu ni somaranu furu gooshi / goosu / gabushi

well - this old set of bowls
is not colored by the soot
of this world

about the set of bowls

Gabi Greve - Issa said...

Kobayashi Issa

nagare-gi no achi-kochi to shite toshi kurenu

the year ends
as driftwood
here, there

This winter hokku is from lunar 8/9 (Sept. 24) in 1803, when Issa was visiting Fukawa, a port town on the Tone River not far from the Pacific and northeast of the city of Edo, so it seems to be a hokku on based on memory or vision. Driftwood (nagare-gi) means either floating wood or wood that has washed ashore, and I take it to mean driftwood lying scattered on a beach or a riverbank. The end of the lunar year, usually in late January, was a busy time for people as they got ready for New Year's, and gathering firewood was a major concern for most families. The hokku seems to evoke a warmly dressed villager or perhaps a firewood seller walking carefully along a riverbank or shore looking for driftwood on or in the sand. Each piece of driftwood is important, and the search is a serious one.

At the same time, something about the scattered pieces of driftwood that were once parts of large trees evokes almost physically the few days that are all that remain of the year now ending. Issa seems to be overlapping driftwood with time passing, and the repetition of to shi- and toshi at the end of the second line and the beginning of the third line strengthens the visual suggestion of the hokku that the year is truly ending at last, ending, look, as scattered driftwood. This overlap may also be an attempt to evoke the unconscious feelings of many of the villagers who bend over and pick up driftwood day after cold day.

The previous hokku in Issa's diary reverberates with the one above:

three or four
washed ashore --
New Year's wood

sanshi-hon nagare-yosetaru toshi-gi kana

Someone finds precious pieces of driftwood and takes them home for the growing pile of firewood under the eaves of his or her house. However, "New Year's wood" also meant pieces of wood that were first blessed and then offered to the god of the new year and to various gods revered by a family in different parts of the house, so perhaps the driftwood in this hokku is shaped in ways that the searcher believes will surely please a god or two.

Chris Drake

Gabi Greve - Issa said...

Kobayashi Issa

susu hokori atama kudashi ya ume tsubaki

plum blossoms
and camellias crushed
under soot and dust

This hokku is from the twelfth month (January) of 1814, several months after Issa moved back to his hometown. It is the time of year when most people are doing a thorough cleaning, sweeping even soot from the upper parts of walls, pillars, and beams, but it's the first time Issa has been faced with cleaning the soot in his own house, and his attitude toward year-end housecleaning is shown in the following hokku placed near the above hokku in his diary:

I briefly play
at sweeping soot --
enough is enough

io no susu zatto haku mane shitarikeri

Issa's neighbors, however, thoroughly clean their houses in preparation for the coming of the new lunar year, although some of them seem to be less interested in keeping their environment clean. The second line of the hokku, which contains a double meaning, says that dust mixed with soot has been brutally or pitilessly dropped right on top of plum blossoms and camellias. The location of the dumping isn't specified, but Japanese plum trees usually grow to a height of about 15-30 feet, and camellia shrubs and trees range from about 5 to 20 feet high, and the soot and dust are being dumped down onto them, so they seem to be growing on a slope. Presumably people who don't want to carry their trash to the village dump or bury it are using a nearby blossoming slope as their own private dump without any thought for the trees and shrubs growing there. The strong language of the hokku suggests that there might be quite a bit of dust and soot being dumped onto the plums and camellias below and that when Issa sees it he feels something close to grief.

Chris Drake

Gabi Greve said...

Kobayashi Issa - toshi wasure

ichi nin no taiheiraku ya toshiwasure

all alone
babbling idiocies...
drinking away the year

This haiku refers to an end-of-year drinking party. Taiheiraku is "irresponsible talk." Evidently, the sake is loosening someone's tongue (Issa's?).

David Lanoue