Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Akemashite Omedetou Gozaimasu!

(ah-kay-mah-sh-tay oh-may-day-toh-u  go-zah-ee-mah-su)

Happy New Year!  2011--The Year Of The Rabbit!

Sorry for the rather long blog break--we went to the in-laws for New Year's and I've had a houseful of kids since we got back...
The thing that always kills me about Christmas/New Year's in Japan is the transition from one to the other--Christmas stuff is out 'til December 25...and disappears overnight.  By December 26, there's not a hint of Christmas in any store and every decoration has been changed over to O-Shogatsu (New Year).

Shi-Shi-Mai (dragons) and plum blossoms and bamboo and

...everybody puts red and white decorations of pine and rice straw and paper on doors.  Kadomatsu (corner pines) go on either side of the door or gate (note the echo of Christmas--evidence of Christmas' borrowing of far older pagan traditions...)

As I said, we went to visit O-Jiisan and O-Baasan (grandpa and grandma) for New Year's.  Usually we sit around eating mikan and watching TV and watch the bell ringing at various temples that way.  This year, though, I convinced my father-in-law to take my husband and me (too late for the kids) out at midnight for Hatsumode (First Praying At The Shrine/Temple--really these words are nearly impossible to translate).  I took the camera along planning to video the temple monk ringing the bell.

 The Temple at Kawana, Izu Peninsula

The Big Bell

No clapper--you use the log to ring the bell
We went to see which temple would be ringing its bell that night, and found that the temple down on the waterfront would be ringing in the new year.

...they had big Kadomatsu bamboo-and-pine decorations out front--the kind you only tend to see in front of temples and department stores, not in front of private houses (too expensive ;-))  The big ones always look something like this--three pieces of bamboo cut diagonally in graduated heights stuck down in a bouquet of pine wrapped with rice straw.  I love them--my husband thinks they're boring :-))

Protective Komainu (lion-dogs) around the Big Bell

 When we got there at 11:40 that night...

...the whole place was lit up with candles set in bamboo holders, diagonally-cut pieces like the Kadomatsu.  Beautiful!

Here we are, ringing in the New Year:

Happy New Year--Have a great 2011!  Oh yeah--I made you a Nengajou (New Year's Card):

Akemashite Omedetou Gozaimasu!  Just for you:-))


  1. Arigatou gozaimasu!

    I remember doing a New Years unit during JPNS 2001.

    Beautiful pictures! I like the decorations too.

  2. Thanks--glad you enjoyed the photos! I love the new year's decorations, too, but the nice ones are *expensive*...

    And--I read the snippet you posted from your NaNoWriMo novel.... Aaaahhhh!! Where's the rest! *Great* writing--really gripping! Now I have to go to bed *not* knowing how they got there... 3 novels in one year is Amazing--you should be super proud of yourself!

  3. Was Hubby trying to break the bell? :-) He certainly put some force into it!

    Here's one for the rabbit...

  4. I think he was...maybe showing off a little ;-)) Still--it was pretty fun since the wind had died back completely and it wasn't very cold. It was also completely clear and dark down there on the Izu Peninsula, away from all the big city lights, so we could see the stars for--I think--the first time ever in Japan (like more than three stars--*all* of Orion, including the sword:-)).

  5. Yay! Happy new year! You celebrated much better than we did. We just ate snacks, played dominos, then watched the new Karate Kid with Jackie Chan

  6. Usually we celebrate like that, too:-)) Eating stuff and watching the Ko-Haku (Red/White) Competition on tv....

  7. Nice photos, and a lovely new header photo of Fuji. But what is "mikan"?

  8. Thanks so much! That's me in the video:-)) I took the Fuji photo first thing New Year's Day from the bathroom window at my in-laws house.

    Oops--another word to put in the glossary! Mikan is a mandarin orange--they're in season in the winter, like grapefruit. I like them *much* better than oranges. They peel more easily, they're sweeter, and my kids can each finish a whole one.