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Eating soba, still a part of ringing out the old year in Japan today. This image is part of The New Year in Japan, a book published by Kobe-based photographer Kozaburo Tamamura in 1906. Original text:
The last hours of the old year are speeding on their journey into oblivion; the disagreeable task of demanding payments of old debts is finished, and just before the year expires, the family and the domestics meet together in mutual harmony, to partake of (Japanese) macaroni.1 Ah! The clock strikes out the death knell of the old year; the assembled ones remain silent, absorbed in thought, for a moment or two, and then take a very brief rest, ere they awake in the early morn to welcome the New Year and to perform the many, many customs handed down from a period immemorial.2
See all New Year images on Old Photos of Japan.
2 Tamamura, Kozaburo (1906). The New Year in Japan. Tamamura Shashinkan.