I have had the opportunity of spending New Years with my dear Japanese family who live in Hiratsuka, Japan (about 1 hour from Tokyo). New Years is the biggest holiday in Japan, so (kind of) comparable to Christmas in America. They do lots of different things to celebrate...all of which I got to experience and learn for the first time.
On the night of the 31st, we ate soba noodles (pasta made from buckwheat flour) with tempura and salad and lots of other wonderful food. Soba are always eaten on this night because they signify the long and healthy life everyone hopes to have for the coming year. Did I mention Yoshiko, my Japanese mom, is the best cook EVER!
After we ate this dinner and watched the NHK (the most viewed public television channel) New Years Ball, Hajime, Eiko and I left to begin our evening. First, we went to Eiko's uncle's temple. We talked for a while with everyone there, ate pork soup, and rung the bell. At Buddhist temples on near years, a big bell is rang 108 times, each gong symbolizes one of the sins humankind commit. Thank Jesus...He's covered each one of these sins!
Next, we went to Kamakura, a famous historical town near Yokohama (and where we live). There, 1000's of people visit the shrine through all hours of the night and into the morning. We walked around the shrine and town until 4 am and returned home at a bit past 5!
That's just the beginning of New Years. It's a 4 day holiday here. From the 1st to the 3rd, we eat mochi soup and lots of special food every morning for breakfast. Today, the 2nd, we went to Tokyo to the Imperial Palace. There are only 2 days of the year people ordinary can enter the palace...January 2nd and the Emperor's birthday (Dec. 23). So, we and about 20,000 other people throughout the day braved the rain to see the emperor give his new years speech.
I am so blessed to have the Inomata and Ishida family!
- ▼ 2006 (20)