There is another New Year custom called otoshidama, in which a child receives gifts of money ($50-$100 per gift) from the grandparents, aunts/uncles, etc. Children with lots of relatives can really clean up.
Such wads of money tend to burn a big hole in the child's pocket, necessitating a quick visit to the toy store or candy shop. In fact, these stores are sure to be open on the first day of the new year, their biggest sales day of the year, while most other stores remain closed at least for the first two days if not the first three or four days.
Here, Calvin, Brian and Michelle are receiving otoshidama from Yoko's brother, Michio, and Yoko's father, Nobuo.
The three kids pocketed a few hundred dollars each, but Yoko put the most of it in their bank accounts and gave them each about $10 to buy whatever they wanted. Calvin and Brian bought pokemon (pocket monsters) and Michelle bought a McDonald's lunch box. (Mommy and Daddy got zip.)
Our family, in turn, offered otoshidama to Yoko's brother's kids, Yuuji and Kouji. (The oldest child, Tatsuo, was in Kyoto, where he is spending a year after high school studying for his college tests. At the particular cram school he is attending, he is not allowed to go home, but must dedicate himself to studying at all times. Because such students do not belong to a college yet, they are called ronin, or masterless people.)
Most older homes with Japanese style tatami (straw mat) rooms will have a small raised platform alcove called a tokonoma.
Here, at Grandma Kariya's, the tokonoma contains a scroll painting featuring a new year theme, a small vase withe a simple flower arangement, and yet another symbol of the new year, the stack of mochi (pounded sticky rice) cakes with a mikan (mandarin orange) on top.