Shortest day of the year, Toji
Do you know what day 22 December is?
It is “Toji(the Winter Solstice)”.
The winter Solstice in Japan, known as “Toji,” is a captivating cultural celebration marked by the longest night of the year. ⛄️🗓️
There is a unique legend that eating anything with a ‘ん n’ in it on the winter solstice will bring 'luck'.Examples include “にんじん carrots" and “だいこん radishes”, but the most commonly eaten food is “かぼちゃ pumpkin”.
Doesn't pumpkin have “ん n" character?
It is true that pumpkin is かぼちゃ in Japanese, but when written in kanji(Chinese letter), it is written as 南瓜 and reads なんきん(na n ki n)!
Yuzu baths is also an essential for Toji.
It is said that Yuzu bath on toji will help you get through the winter without catching a cold.
There are various theories as to why, but it was thought to be a form of purification to ward off bad luck before bringing in good fortune.
Yuzu, which is in season in winter, has a strong fragrance, and it was also believed that the strong scent of yuzu would keep evil spirits away.
When I was a child, I once took a yuzu bath on toji, but I didn't know that at the time and played with the yuzu floating in the water like a ball!😅
The reason why people are so concerned about luck is that Toji is the day when the power of the sun, the symbol of life, is at its weakest, so it has been considered and feared as the day closest to death.😱
I checked and found that in my home town of Sapporo, sunset on the 22nd is at 16:03. That's an early date, which is unthinkable in Singapore.🌃
On the other hand, as daylight hours increase after this day, it was also regarded as the turning point where negative energy reaches its extreme and turns towards positive energy.
With this in mind, there is a custom of soaking in a Yuzu bath to renew declining fortunes and move towards good luck.💪
The quiet beauty of this seasonal observance offers a glimpse into Japan’s rich heritage and the importance placed on harmony with nature.☺️