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Japan is a country of traditions. You take off your shoes when you go indoors. You rinse your body before entering the bath. And you sit around the house with family on Ōmisoka (大晦日, New Year’s Eve) and do nothing but watch television and eat food before going to the jinja (神社, shrine) at midnight.

These aspects of New Year in Japan are probably familiar. Many are aware that Japanese eat osechi ryōri (おせち料理, traditional New Year’s foods such as sea bream, shrimp, black soy beans and others), toshi-koshi soba (年越しそば, year-end buckwheat noodles) and mochi (餅, sticky-rice cake), and that they then perform hatsumōde (初詣, the first shrine visit of the New Year).

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