Starting the New Year the Japanese Way

Japan has a tradition to have new year’s events in temples from the night of Dec 31st to the late night of Jan 1st . People come to a temple nearby their places and ring a bell 108 times for reducing worldly desires.

I hadn’t rung a new year’s bell in my life, even though I had spent New Year’s in Japan 28 times, since I hadn’t been interested in it at all. However, I suddenly changed my mind after I came to Toronto because many of my friends asked me about Japanese traditional culture and my experience.

Toronto has a Japanese temple called the Toronto Buddhist Church and they have a “Year End Bell Ringing” service. At the end of 2017, I decided to celebrate a new year at the temple.

Toronto Buddhist Church

Toronto Buddhist Church

The event started at 11pm on Dec 31st. Firstly, the chief priest of the temple told some stories related to Buddhism in Japanese and English. Secondly, everybody chanted a Buddhist sutra together following a Buddhist service book. At last, we rang a bell right when the year was changed to 2018, Jan 1st.

Buddhist service book

Buddhist service book

Buddhist service book written in Japanese and English

Buddhist service book written in Japanese and English

Most of the participants were elderly people and looked like Japanese Canadians or Japanese people who have lived in Canada for a long time. I could see they’re following Japanese traditional culture in Toronto and it made me pleased.

We counted down 10 seconds before the year changed in English, and we said ”Happy New Year”’ at midnight. We were in a Japanese temple, yet we counted the new year in English and kissed and hugged with families and partners. This was very Canadian and they reminded me I was in Canada.

ringing a bell

Making a line for ringing a bell

Buddhist-style bell

Buddhist-style bell

All of participants rang a bell and got some mochies as a gift from the temple. And of course, we prayed and wished for lots of luck in this year.

offertory box

An offertory box for prayers and wishes

Celebrating a new year in a temple is not exciting like a Canadian-style new year’s eve party, yet it’s good to starting the new year with quiet and calm in Japanese traditional ways.


  •  Year End Bell Ringing
  • Dec 31, 2017 at 11pm~ Jan 1st, 2018 at 12am
  • at Toronto Buddhist Church

*I heard they have this event every year



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