New Year’s Food

As this year draws to an end and we look back, I am thankful for all the good things: a happy trip for the two of us to the US, the lovely fall trip to Nara and Wakayama, my grandson’s first birthday and the support and encouragement of all my friends while I was in the hospital.

We are in the midst of preparations for the New Year celebrations but this year it’s just the two of us and we decided to keep it simple. I made only a few of the traditional dishes and we will have some of Hiroshima’s famous oysters, too! (fried, of course!) This is one layer of the traditional osetchi food we have on New Year’s.

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Hiroo has been doing the year-end cleaning here at the farm, and spent all day yesterday cleaning the old house and douma area.

Tonight (December 31st) people will flock to temples all over Japan, lining up to ring the gigantic temple bell. The bell is traditionally rung 1o8 times to drive away the 108 ills that beset mankind. These refer to various problems that might trouble our spirit or harm our body. If you have the courage to brave the cold, it is an exhilarating experience!

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How to toll the bell

How to toll the bell

On January first, thousands of people visit Shinto shrines to pray for good luck in the new year. Beginning at the stroke of midnight, people start for the shrine. Others will wait for daylight and dress up in formal kimono for the occasion as the family shown below.

New Year's Day at the Shrine

New Year’s Day at the Shrine

Most people will purchase an omikuji, a slip of paper with their fortune on it. Some will draw the daikichi fortune (very good luck!) but others may get one that says “ill fortune.” I wonder if the ones tied to this wire and left behind were “ill fortune” cards!

Fortunes left behind?

Fortunes left behind?

This year I visited Kameyama Yahata Shrine in Yasu-ura, Kure. I met these two cahrming who sell the fortunes and other good luck charms.

Chihiro and Chie at Kameyama Yahata Shrine

Chihiro and Chie at Kameyama Yahata Shrine

"Turtel Mountain" Shrine in Yasu-ura

“Turtle Mountain” Shrine in Yasu-ura

Torii Gate to Shrine

Torii Gate to Shrine

Right now I am concentrating on preparing toshikoshi soba , hot buckwheat noodles. Japanese always eat this dish at night on New Year’s Eve. One meaning for the noodles is to wash away all the bad things of the old year. The fact that noodles are rolled out and cut so long represents the hope that health and long life will continue for a long time.

Lucky Buckwheat Noodles

Lucky Buckwheat Noodles

What do we do on New year’s Day? Well, children look forward to receiving decorated tiny envelopes that contain money! Since Christmas is not a traditional event here, it has been the custom for children to receive a substantial sum on New Year’s Day. The more relatives you see that day, the more money you’ll accumulate. Stores open up with “Surprise Bags” that contain many miscellaneous items which we can’t see until we buy! Even adults line up to purchase brand name fashion bags!

Otoshidama Envelopes

Otoshidama Envelopes

More traditional activities include a card game called karuta or a badminton-like game of hanetsuki.

Playing Hanetsuki

Playing Hanetsuki

However you spend this New Year’s holiday, I hope you have good fortune and health in this coming year!

Happy New Year, everyone!!

San no Jyu

San no Jyu

Ni no Jyu

Ni no Jyu

Ichi no Jyu

Ichi no Jyu

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2 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. beckynielsen
    Dec 31, 2012 @ 17:02:21

    Leah, this is so interesting as your blogs always are! Really enjoyed seeing how you are celebrating there! I rang one of those large bells in China – the sound is wonderful! To hear it 108 times must be quite an experience!

    Reply

    • leahmama1
      Jan 01, 2013 @ 01:30:03

      Thanks, Becky. We are spending New Years in the country and it’s pretty cold. Hiroo is out fishing! I wonder how you are spending he New Year holiday?! Have a great year!!

      Reply

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