New Year’s Events
Shishimai (獅子舞：Lion dance)
Imported from China, the shishimai (Lion dance) is often performed around the New Year by one or two lions accompanied by bamboo flutes and drums. It was performed as a prayer for household safety and a good harvest.
There are regional variations; one or two people wearing the lion costume, and one or two lions dancing. At the end of the dance, the lion "bites" the heads of some watchers, to bring good luck.
Lion do not live in Japan. It is said that this dance was originally born in India and imported via China along with Buddhism in the 7th century. The lion dance has mainly two types - two-player type and one-player type. Two- player type is similar to the Chinese style - one person plays the role of the head and other person plays the role of the tail .
Nengajo are New Year’s greeting postcards.
People usually prepare the cards before the end of the year so that they can be delivered on new year's day. The cards contain new year's messages, photographs or graphic images. The postcards for exclusive use of the New Year's card also have lottery numbers so that the receivers might have the chance to win annual post office lottery as well as to enjoy the greeting messages of friends and loved ones.
Post Office lottery winning numbers for the 1st, 2nd, and 3rd prizes are announced from the Postal Office in mid January.
The 1st prize: 10,000 yen cash
One gets the last 5 figure announced, he/she gets the 1st prize.
The 2nd prize: local products such as apples, oranges set
One gets the last 4 figure announced, he/she gets the 2nd prize.
The 3rd prize: stamps set
One gets the last 2 figure announced, he/she gets the 3rd prize.