More information about the unique Okinawan culture
When the last day of the year comes in Okinawa, many get ready to celebrate for the new year in various ways.

Some may prepare to attend the Mabuni Fire and Bell Festival to wish for peace, others stay home and watch telecasts of countdowns in Tokyo or go out and celebrate with friends and family, and some may even go to bed early, to possibly attend the first sunrise in Okinawa at Nakagusuku Castle.

However, there's one customary tradition that most Okinawans don't forget to do: It's to enjoy toshikoshi, meaning, "to bring in a new year", soba. The noodles themselves, being long, is to serve the purpose of expressing hopes for a long and prosperous year to follow as well as to cut off the previous bad luck that one may have had to bring in the good when eaten.

The eating of soba dates back to the Kamakura period (1185–1333) in Japan. It originated at a temple that served the less fortunate mochi, made from flour that also made soba noodles, on the last day of the year. It's said that tables started to turn for the people that ate it and they began to have good fortunes. Thus, the people of Japan started believing that eating soba on New Year's Eve would bring in good luck and fortune for them as well.

Being in Okinawa, the preferred celebratory food is, of course, a steaming hot bowl of Okinawa soba.

A steaming hot bowl of Okinawa soba!

Most will gather to enjoy Okinawa soba all together as a family, some with friends, and some at local soba restaurants.

The tradition of eating soba before the new year may be why you might pass an Okinawa soba restaurant during the day only to see it packed with patrons and even people waiting to enter. Though, when you pass by at night, the same place may be emptied and closed, this is because of the new year customs to follow.

Where was the first place you tried Okinawa soba, how did you like it, and are you likely to celebrate the same way with the local community this year?
The views expressed on this page by users and staff are their own, not those of Okinawa.Org.
About Author
David is the Founder of Okinawa.Org. When he's not busy with business and administrative dealings on the site, he's out looking for the smallest things in the largest areas that may be overlooked by many.


Sign In or Sign Up

Forgot your password?
Don't have an account? Create an Account

Article Information

Last Update

More in Culture

More from David

Share This Article