Saturday, January 01, 2011

Happy New Year from Japan

And here is how we celebrated our New Year's Eve and New Year's Day in Japan this year.

For dinner I made toshi koshi soba, Year-End Soba. We had our noodles in a cold dipping sauce (instead of hot) and a couple pieces of tempura on the side. As my mother-in-law will tell you these noodles symbolize living a long and "narrow" life. Narrow meaning not to any extremes. "Adventure" is not her middle name.

J's best friend came over to spend the night (with a giant plate of sashimi in hand!) and we all did nothing much until a little after 11:30 when we drove into the mountains to the local temple to ring in the New Year.

Here are J and his buddy by the drum can fire. Behind them is the little tower that houses the bell.

Everyone lines up to take their turn at ringing out the current year's sins, so they can start the next year afresh. Sinfree, if you will. Afterward, the head monk and his little helper monk (or maybe not a monk, dude had a beard) give out cups of hot sake (for adults) and amazake (for the kids).

Someone keeps an eye on their cell phone to catch when the year ends and in previous years J jumps in the air at the exact moment so he can say he wasn't actually on this earth when the new year came. I know, an old joke but... This year he played it cool and sipped his drink.

A few "Happy New Years" and awkward hugs, then we go home to sleep for a couple hours before I'm waking everyone up at five thirty saying, Get your coats on! We're going to be late!

We drive the ten minutes to the beach. It's dark, but the horizon is just starting to light up. Here you can see the moon and (I think) Venus up there. You'll have to click on the photo to see a bigger version.

There are about fifty people to a hundred people gathered. A lot of them are dressed up and dancing and singing. Some have giant flags they're waving about. Others with cameras in hand or small dogs tucked under their arms.

Over here you can see Mount Fuji. All those people you see there are crowded around a fire. People make fires all up and down the beach. They warm sake over them or cook sticky rice cakes or even large pots of pork and vegetable soup which they share with anyone who walks by or stops to warm their hands by the fire.

Here the sun is just behind those clouds. Oh, and a wave!

Getting closer. Everyone's holding there breath.

And here we have it. The first sunrise of 2011! About this time everyone is banzai-ing and making little wishes with their hands clasped in front of them. Dogs bark, children cheer, and boy do those dancers go wild. (I tried to upload a video of them, but it was too huge. Need to work on that.)

And here's another because I took dozens of photos and really hate for them to sit in my camera. This is probably taken a nanosecond after the first. The camera is tilted. Otherwise, same shot.

After the sunrise we drove to the docks to look at the boats all decorated with New Year garb.
Some garb.

Some more garb and a Mount Fuji again, way back there.

Here's a lovely Mount Fuji if you can just ignore that light pole. I don't know how many cameramen have cursed that darned light pole. I'm surprised someone hasn't hacked it down by now. I could probably erase it with Photoshop but am a bit snob about not retouching anything on a picture. So Mr. light pole stays. As does the seagull.

It wasn't until we had walked the length of the port to take the above photo that we realized J and his friend hadn't followed us. We figured they were cold and hiding out in a patch of sunlight. But instead when we found them they were breathing heavy and saying they'd just had an interesting experience.

It seems two girls ran their car off the edge of the dock and ran screaming over to J and Y begging for help. The boys had to lift the car while they slowly backed up. I said what a lovely thing to do on New Year's Day. They said their arms hurt.

I'll leave you with one more. Here is Mount Fuji, seagull and old ships. This pretty much sums up where I live. If you can only imagine the smell of salt and fish, you'd practically be here!

Happy New Year, everyone!


Ello said...

Happy New Year!!!! And I'm so jealous of the soba noodles and tempura! That looked so fabulous!!!

Kappa no He said...

Ello! For some reason my soba-boiling talents fall short. This time though it turned out really well. Wished I could drive over and drop some by. Happy New Year to you! I'm going to keep my eye out for all good news coming from your direction.

Pat said...

Leave it to J to have an adventure on the dock on New Year's Day. Some people just seem to be in the right place at the right time. :)

Gina said...

What a beautiful way to ring in the New Year! Happy New Year! : )

JY said...

I saw the same sunrise, at the nursing home. It was certainly beautiful wasnt it???

Kappa no He said...

Pat, actually the first thing me and my husband said was that we wished we'd been there to take a photo. ^^

Gina, how have you been!? I've been out of the blogging loop for so long. I'm back in. I hope you all have a fantastic New Year!

JY, congo line? Kidding! It was great weather for a sunrise that is for sure.

Deidra said...

That first picture was especially lovely!

Kappa no He said...

Deidra, Mmmmmm~!

Anonymous said...

Happy New Year! Momo got to watch the "Red and White Song Contest" this year because TV Japan carried it. Momo said she wasn't interested, but she watched the whole thing. I felt old again because I recognized some of the older singers.
If you think J is old enough, send him to Atsuta Jingu in Nagoya next year. That is one of my Japan experiences that is burned into my memory. All these years later, I can still imagine just about the entire experience. Research says that adreneline burns memories, and I believe that. A million people pressed together in that small space. Tell J to maneuver himself and his buddy near a group of cute chicks.

Kappa no He said...

Happy New Year to you and Momo and the pups! Yeah, that Kohaku thing just makes me sad. I'm not sure why. Just the enormous deal that is made over it, I guess.

I will definitely look into the jinja visit. Poor kids getting ready for high school exams, he needs a little excitement.

KaBooM said...

Wonderful pics! Yay yay yay! What a GREAT New Year!

robin said...

Those pictures are beautiful! Happy New Year!

Kappa no He said...

Thank you, Karen and Robin and a very Happy New Year to you two as well!

MDK said...

Happy New Year!

The pictures are beautiful

Kappa no He said...

MDK! So good to see you. Happy New Year to you too!