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Do you remember your first dream in the new year?

Japanese traditions say that it is very important to see a good first dream of the year, hatsuyume (初夢). However, most of the Japanese people I’ve asked about that said that they didn’t remember it. It was very disappointing to hear that, since my own dream was about Osechi Ryorui, Japanese New Year dishes. Although New Year dishes contain lots of lucky symbols, I have never heard or read what seeing them in your dream means. My husband explained it very simple: I was just excited to eat them on New Year’s day, as we had only toshi-koshi soba the night before.

The first mention of hatsuyume in Japanese literature was in “Sankashu” (山家集, which means “Poems of a Mountain Home”), a collection of Japanese poetry by Saigyō Hōshi. At that time, the first dream of the year wasn’t in winter. It was in the first night of spring, risshun (立春), just after Setsubun.

In Edo Period, people started to believe that dreams telling your fortune for the next year can be seen on 2nd and 3rd night. Not all people sleep on the first night of New Year, because visit shrines and temples (hatsumode).First dream of new yearThe most auspicious thing to see in your first dream of the year is Mount Fuji. If you could’t see it while sleeping, the best thing to do is to see it in reality, for example in Hakone. However, all 3 lucky symbols once could be found in Komagome, Bunkyo Ward. There is a small shrine dedicated to the legendary mountain. It’s called Komagome Fuji Jinja 富士山神社. In 1573, when it was erected, it was possible to see Fuji from there.

Second to Fuji goes taka, or falcon. First dream of new yearThis powerful bird flies at extremely high speed and has a magnificent eyesight. Many people would like to acquire these qualities. The present Komagome Hospital stands in the area of former Falconers Mansion.

Eggplant is one of the vegetables that most people don’t see in their dreams. Well, if they didn’t eat too much the night before. However if you happen to see nasu (なす), it is particularly good, because another word, 成す, that is also read as nasu means “to achieve, to fulfil”. Long times ago eggplants were specialty of Komagome village.First dream of new year

A little tip from Japanese people: to have a good first dream of the year, put a picture of Takarabune (Treasure Ship) with 7 Lucky Gods under your pillow. If you saw a bad dream anyway, throw it away in the river next morning and things will turn out well.

Article by Olga Kaneda

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