Toji
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TOJI

Rooted in the Chinese philosophy of ying & yang, the winter solstice in Japan symbolizes the harmony and balance of the life force. It is believed that the ‘yin’ of cold and darkness are at their most dominant on the shortest day of the year. Once the yin passes, the ‘yang’ of warmth and light will be upon us, and soon spring will return. Thus, winter solstice is a time to celebrate.

Embracing the winter cold before taking a hot bath, and praying for good health before eating auspicious foods, Japanese happily carry on the customs and traditions of the winter solstice.
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Rooted in the Chinese philosophy of ying & yang, the winter solstice in Japan symbolizes the harmony and balance of the life force. It is believed that the ‘yin’ of cold and darkness are at their most dominant on the shortest day of the year. Once the yin passes, the ‘yang’ of warmth and light will be upon us, and soon spring will return. Thus, winter solstice is a time to celebrate.

Embracing the winter cold before taking a hot bath, and praying for good health before eating auspicious foods, Japanese happily carry on the customs and traditions of the winter solstice.
Toji (the winter solstice) is one of Nijushi-sekki (the 24 divisions of the solar year). It occurs around December 22 at ecliptic longitude 270 degrees. And it refers to a period between the day and the beginning of the following sekki called shokan (the lesser cold season) (at ecliptic longitude 270 - 285 degrees).

It is said in Japan that taking yuzu-yu (a yuzu citron bath) and eating Toji-gayu (winter solstice rice gruel), which is azuki-gayu (rice gruel with red beans), and pumpkins on the day prevent catching cold. There is a tradition of eating jiao-zi (Chinese dumplings containing ground meat and/or vegetables) in Northern China and tan-en (boiled dango (dumplings) with an (sweet bean paste) inside) in Southern China.
The Winter Solstice usually comes paired with a new moon, the mark of the start of something new. Since the day is also very short, it is seen as “the day when both moon and sun are rejuvenated”. It truly is a day about revitalizing both body and nature.

From this day onward the days will start getting longer again, bringing more sun. With this swing from night to day it is also believed that it’s a swing from the negative to the positive, meaning everyone’s luck will turn for the positive side!
Toji, the winter solstice in Japan, naturally falls on the shortest day of the year, usually around December 21-23 or so. Bathing is common custom, whether at a natural-hot-spring onsen or in the comfort of one’s own accommodations. At home, many Japanese people will take a yuzu-yu, or yuzu bath. Throwing a few of these whole citrus—prized for its cleansing and healing properties—is thought to yield good luck and ward off bad spirits.
People say that foods that have “n(ん)” in its name make you lucky!
It is because “n” is the last character in the hiragana order. Since it is the end of hiragana, people gave the same meaning as the day of “touji (the winter solstice).

So, ninjin (carrot), daikon (Japanese white radish), udon (thick white noodles), ginnan (ginkgo nut) and …any food which has “n” in its name are supposed to be lucky food to eat on this day!
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