A New Year’s tradition – Joya-no-Kane

During the Wado Academy’s New Year’s course yesterday, we did gyakuzuki no tsukkomi 108 times up and down the hall. At first, this seemed like a tiring exercise to practice our stances and punching, but it was later explained to us that it had a deeper significance.

In Japan, on New Year’s Eve, known as ōmisoka, bells are rung at temples across the country. Specifically, the bells are rung 108 times, as part of a Buddhist ritual called “joya no kane”. The name translates as such, with “joya” being a way to say “New Year’s Eve” in Japanese and “kane” meaning “bell”.

The ringing of the bells represents the cleansing of the human heart of the 108 worldly desires that are believed to cause pain and suffering, with the hope that all who hear the bells will be cleansed of their problems and worries from the previous year. The final chime comes at the start of the new year, offering all who hear it a fresh start to the year ahead.

Inspired by this tradition, the Wado Academy likes to do 108 of a certain technique at the first course of the new year, with the belief that repeating the move 108 times is enough for us to reflect and challenge ourselves.