As the year reaches its close in Japan, attentions immediately turn to the New Year and this means…cooking and cleaning!
It is very important in Japan to welcome the new year in a clean state – and so Osoji (大掃除) takes place – extensive cleaning that is thought to purify the residence/ workplace so that the god of the coming New Year “Toshigami-sama” may be welcomed. After the cleaning is done, the New Year decorations can be placed around houses and businesses, such as ‘kadomatsu’ pine and bamboo displays placed outside entrances and gateways. Elements such as bamboo, pine, and daidai (a variety of bitter orange) are believed to symbolise longevity, good fortune and health.
At the Bamboo Bathhouse in Tokyo, Mama Kojin bustled around the kitchen preparing special dishes to be eaten in the days after the New Year (known as osechi ryori/ お節料理), and Boss Panda rounded up every available pair of hands to clean the Bamboo Bathhouse top to bottom.