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).

Many may even know of the "Kohaku Uta Gassen" ("紅白歌合戦," literally, "Red and White Song Battle"), a televised New Year's Eve singing contest broadcast by NHK. Pop stars are split up into the akagumi (赤組, red team) and shirogumi (白組, white team) much like elementary school students during undōkai (運動会, sports day competitions). They then perform, and judges and audience members vote to determine a winning team.