明けましておめでとうございます! (Akemashita Omedetou Gozaimasu!) – Happy New Year!
January in Japan is celebrated with lots of traditional Japanese New Year’s food, shrine visits and eating / drinking with family and friends. Very similar to Christmas in western countries.
One distinctly Japanese tradition which is particularly unique, is a New Year archery contest that takes place on the second Sunday in January at Sanjusangendo temple in Kyoto. It stems from the story of a Japanese archer who managed to shoot 51 of 100 arrows successfully on target over the stretch of the temple’s 120 meter (390 foot) long veranda.
Participants in the competition must be exactly 20 years old – no younger, no older. Each year, around 2000 archers join the competition. The targets are set 60 meters away – that’s just half the length of the temple. The archers shoot in groups of six. There are only 4 targets, and each archer has two arrows over two minutes. Archers that hit the target with both arrows go on to the next round.
A very cool and different way to see in the New Year we think!