Hotel Ryumeikan Ochanomizu Honten



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About December in Tokyo

It's already December.
There are remarkably seen withered trees around and come fully winter season outside. It was rapidly cooled down this year and we felt winter started suddenly. Tokyo temperature in December on average 8.7 degrees (1981y-2010y). There are days of low temperature less -5 degrees when severe season began again for the mornings. On the contrary though we have many sunny days in the clean air, it is the best month to enjoy fantasized illusion seeing beautiful illumination and night view with your favorite people.

SHIWASU (December/ the end of the year)

December is called SHIWASU by lunar calendar as many people know.
But there are many stories for the origin of this word, SHIWASU and actually not correct ones among any. Most familiar origin was used to be the month of memorial dead for ancestors as well as the New Year Bon which is the Buddhist festival of the dead. Many Buddhist priests were so busy going here and there, but we can 't see those occasions a lot anymore.

There are also other origins to say.
- SHIHATSU means the end of work in the year
- SHIHATSUTSUKI means to accomplish or complete things to do
- SHIHATSUZUKI means to fill four seasons

There is another view that the word of "something ends" was changed to use SHIWASU. Then do you know what was annual event of this month? Those were things disappeared in current Japan.


HARIKUYOU / Memorial service for broken needles

"Harikuyou " is the old customs to give memorial service for needles you used up by pricking Tofu and Mochi (rice cake). In those times many people worn Kimono there was an event to dispose sawing needles which were very important tool for Kimono. It might not be so familiar in general now, but there are still some dress schools follow this custom.

HARIKUYOU  / Memorial service for broken needles

SUSUHARAI / Housecleaning

"Susuharai" is also said "Susuhaki". This means to clean up thoroughly houses.
The New Year is the month for the event to invite the year god. In ancient times this month used to be recognized as well that ancestors would return to houses.
So that there became customary event to prepare for the New Year to clean thoroughly family Shinto and Buddhist altars. And that was changed for the year god to invite cleaning thoroughly houses.

Soot had collected unexpectedly in the chimney of Japanese houses because people used fires. People used firewood and charcoal for daily cooking. So much soot were collected from Irori ( fireplace) ,Kamado (cooking stove) and Kayari (mosquito smudge).
Cleaning those soot and dust collected thoroughly in the year meant to be also religious ceremony to purify from impurity. People called this cleaning SUSUHARAI.
If people cleaned soot so hard, their faces and hands got dirty black, didn't they?

Do you clean thoroughly in the end of the year?
Why don't we clean up our houses to complete the year and invite the New Year with comfort in a clean air?

SUSUHARAI  / Housecleaning

5th December, 2014