New Year's Day


New Year's Day

***** Location: Worldwide
***** Season: New Year
***** Category: Humanity


New Year's Day, ganjitsu 元日

This is the first day of the year, January 1st.
Lately, special festive events have become rare. The traditional mood has become a thing of the past and many people tend to simply stay home quietly. Nonetheless it is still considered a day when people welcome the new year with a refreshed mind.

The various terms which designate New Year's Day (元朝 ganchō, ganchoo; 元旦 gantan; 大旦 ōashita ooashita) particularly refer to the morning of the day, when the members of the family gather to celebrate by drinking spiced sake (屠蘇 toso).
gantan 元旦 : the kanji shows us the sun about to rise, so it refers more to "hatsu hi no de", first sunrise.
. hatsuhi no de 初日の出  .

Another related term that means New Year (歳旦 saitan) extends its meaning to the first three days of the New Year.

ganjitsu ya harete suzume no monogatari

New Year's Day--
the sun shines,
the sparrows' story

Ransetsu 嵐雪

University Virginia Saijiki

Worldwide use

Things found on the way


ganjitsu ya jindai no koto mo omowaruru

New Year's Day -
How it evokes
the Age of the Gods

. Arakida Moritake 荒木田守武 .


- - - - - Matsuo Basho - - - - -

ganjitsu wa tagoto no hi koso koishikere

New Year’s Day:
Now I long to see
The sun over Tagoto.

Tr. Buntin

It is recorded that this haiku was composed on New Year’s Day of 1689, when Basho was 46 years old, at his residence in Ueno. The autumn before, Basho had made a journey to Mt. Obasute (in present-day Nagano Prefecture), as described in his book Trip to Sarashina. At the base of Mt. Ubasute there are many small rice paddies, tagoto in Japanese. The autumn moon reflecting off those paddies is a famous sight, and thus the area was given the place name “Tagoto.” Basho had long wanted to witness the scene of the autumn moon over the Tagoto rice paddies. After a difficult journey, Basho was rewarded with the view of his dreams.

When Basho saw the sun rising on New Year’s Day, ascending over the decorative New Year pine branches, it brought back fond memories of the moon’s reflection on the wet Tagoto rice fields, but at this time it would be the sun that was shining on the dry fields. By placing his distinctive signature within the circle--representing both the sun and the moon-–Basho suggests that his heart his would be equally captivated by the sight of either the moon or sun over the Tagoto rice fields.

Also, since tagoto can be taken to mean “the many rice paddies of Japan,” the haiku can be interpreted as meaning,
“A new year is dawning all over the land, each place receiving the light of the sun in a different manner, what a lovely thought that is, bringing back fond memories of the places I have visited.”
It is quite likely that this haiga was made on the actual day the haiku was composed; perhaps even haiku and painting were created together. It is browned with age but Basho’s brushwork remains bright and fresh. This is an extremely rare and fine Basho haiga.

Look at a tansaku script of this poem:
source : robynbuntin.com

On New Year's Day,
in every rice paddy
the sun is more dear.

Tr. McAuley



ganjitsu ya omoeba sabishi aki no kure

First Day -
deep in thought, lonely
autumn evening

Tr. Barnhill

The First Day of the Year:
I remember
A lonely autumn evening.

Tr. Blyth

On New Year's Day,
now I think of it, how sad is
an autumn evening.

Tr. McAuley

Written in 1683 天和3年. Basho age 40.

On the first day of the year, many people stay at home and the village is more quiet than ever. It reminds the poet of the quiet sunset of a late autumn evening.
Written in the Danrin style of haikai.

. Matsuo Basho 松尾芭蕉 - Archives of the WKD .


ku ni yanda ganjitsu suru ya hito nami ni

all New Year's Day
I fight off my worries
like everyone else

Tr. Chris Drake

This hokku is from the 12th lunar month (January) of 1826. It was written several days before New Year's Day, so Issa may have been suffering fairly serious depression. He must have known what New Year's Day would be like because he already had serious anxieties about himself and his future and grieved for the souls of his dead family who once lived in his house with him. In 1823 Issa's wife Kiku died, and at the beginning of 1824 his third son Konzaburo died. This meant all four of his children had died young. To make things even worse for Issa, in the 5th month of 1824 he remarried a woman named Yuki, who very soon left him and in the 8th month forced him to divorce her. The shock must have been intense, since less than a month later Issa had a stroke that temporarily took away his ability to speak, and he had to spend the next four months recovering at the homes of various students.

Finally he recovered and returned to his empty house in the twelfth month. In 1825 Issa spent about 70% of his time at the houses of others, but the convivial atmosphere at his students' houses seems to have protected him against depression. After Issa returned to his empty home in his hometown in early January 1826, he became snowed in, and, if his hokku are any indication, his mood as he stayed alone in his house, surrounded by painful memories, seems to have become darker. Issa no doubt hoped to remarry and have a family, but at 62 his body was weakening markedly after a life of living mostly on the road, and he may have doubted he would ever marry again. In fact he did marry for a third time in the autumn of the following year, but he died in early 1828 before his last child was born.

In 1833 Issa's follower Souki edited Additional Hokku by Issa (Issa hokku-shou tsuika). It includes a variant of the above hokku with the word "Travel" written before it, so perhaps Issa wrote this version later, while he was visiting someone at New Year's. The original hokku, however, was written in the 12th month while Issa was at home.
His diary for the month says, "At home all thirty days."

Chris Drake

. Kobayashi Issa 小林一茶 in Edo .


Haiku and Photos from Tomislav Maretic, Croatia

foggy morning --
first sparrows
on the bare branches


New year morning --
Sljeme mountain slowly
comes out from the fog


firecrackers in the morning -
the sparrows shift
from tree to tree


rooster's crowing -
the new year day's
first felicitation


groggy morning -
some champagne still left
in the glasses

new year's day --
for our hangover
this vegetable soup

first coffee -
waiting for the concert
from Vienna


first mountain view!
while I find the camera
it's swallowed in fog


Related words

***** New Year's Concert Vienna Austria

***** New Year (shin nen)



Judy Kamilhor said...

Thanks for the amazing photographs! The fog is especially beautiful.

a new year:
the first slapshot sizzles
on the fresh ice


. Gabi Greve said...

at my gate
New Year's starts
at noon

waga kado wa hiru sugi kara ga ganjitsu zo


by Issa, 1817

Issa flaunts his laziness, even on this most auspicious day of the year.


Anonymous said...


a full round
of New Year's greetings
at the inn

ganjitsu ya medetai zukushi tabi no yado


by Issa, 1824

Tr. David Lanoue / http://cat.xula.edu/issa/

Gabi Greve - Basho archives said...

ganjitsu ya omoeba sabishi aki no kure

Matsuo Basho

Gabi Greve - Basho archives said...

ganjitsu wa / tagoto no hi koso / koishi kere

Matsuo Basho

Gabi Greve - Issa said...

Kobayashi Issa

furusato ya uma mo ganjitsu itasu kao

in my hometown
even horses' faces
say Happy New Year!

This hokku is from New Year's Day in 1810, when Issa was in Edo, so Issa is imagining what this day is like back in his hometown. It would be three more years before he could actually return to live again in his hometown, but he was already ardently thinking about his home and planning to return. His father raised and rented out pack and passenger horses for people traveling on the main road that ran through Issa's hometown, so he saw horses up close when he was a boy. In Japan, if a family had a small stable, it was usually placed at the end of the main house and connected to it by a common roof, so to a certain extent horses and humans shared a single daily life environment -- and range of facial expressions. Although Issa speaks only of horses here, surely he ultimately also means all living creatures, if only we look at their expressions carefully enough.

Today, Jan. 31, 2013, is lunar New Year's, so please allow me to wish a very happy Year of the Horse to everyone reading this! I hope this year will be a period of world peace and justice and of personal peace, love, and many renku sequences, haiku, and haibun for all of you!

In contemporary urban Japan the Year of the Horse is popularly believed to have started on Jan. 1. Only in a few remote country villages do people still celebrate the beginning of the lunar new year in a major way, although in China, Korea, and elsewhere in east Asia, it is still a very important holiday. In terms of yin-yang divination and the zodiacal animals that govern each year, the new year actually starts today. More important, Basho, Buson, Issa and other Edo-period haijin celebrated and wrote about lunar New Year's, which for them coincided with the rebirth of grasses, trees, flowers and all the animals, including us, who depend on them.

Chris Drake