Round Two: New Year.

Cranking the energy back up to celebrate our Japanese side with the big family hoohah that is New Year.
I love New Year I just find it hard to keep the energy going especially when there is SOOO much food about and my clothes are already feeling the post Christmas pinch.
The Man is working his last day of the year today and then he’ll have 5 whole days off, bringing the annual total of days off to….6!! I exaggerate of course but really days off are thin on the ground, as reports of job losses float in just got to be grateful we have jobs.

So what will we do ? I hear you ask. How does the average Japanese family celebrate their biggest holiday.
Food and alcohol are the first words that spring to mind.
Back in the early days, when Sunshine was just a little thing we would go to the Out-Law’s and for two days there would be dozens and dozens of relatives. Adults give children money called ‘ otoshidama’, so Sunshine made out like a bandit then. These days as people have aged rather, they tend tp stay closer to home, and spend the time with their more nuclear family, so the gatherings are not so big.

We’ll go over to the out-laws on the 31st and hang out and chat and eat. At about 11pm those of us who are still awake will eat ‘toshikoshisoba’, then myself, The Man, his father and any kids who are still awake will walk for 30 minutes in the frigid cold to the local shrine.
I will bet right now that Jim is the only child still standing.

At the shrine, at midnight, a huge bell is rung 108 times. The first 108 people get a chance to give it a dong, so we always hope we are in time to get a number for that.
Between 11.30 and 12.30 thousands of people come. I think the first visit of the year to a shrine or temple is call ‘ hatsumode’ but I am never quite sure if this New Year’s Eve visit qualifies, as we always visit Hozanji Temple, up the mountain near our house, when we get back.

There are a lot of stalls selling food and amulet for luck etc and last year there was a live band playing and I seem to recall the kids being horrified that I had a dance with my Father-in-Law.
Then all warm and fuzzy we trundle home.

Keep watching for the next thrilling installment I am going for my morning walk now.

4 thoughts on “Round Two: New Year.

  1. I am no expert and the amount of attention I give to Japanese ceremonial issues can be written on a grain of rice, but I don’t think the New Year’s Eve visit and ringing of the bell 108 times counts as the first shrine visit as it is not at the shrine. The bell ringing is a Buddhist thing at the temple to end the old year and the first new year’s visit thing for good luck in the new year is at a Shinto shrine. I always kind of think of it as Buddhist things usually have to do with death and endings (funerals and the close of the new year) while Shinto things usually have to do with life and beginnings (weddings, births, new year, etc)

    I refuse to do any of the Buddhist things, but I will do the Shinto things. The exception to my rule is when MIL kicks the bucket. You bet I will be there to cheerfully send her on her way to the afterlife. (I know I am horrible!)

    Of course I could be completely and totally wrong so just ignore me.

  2. Thanks for your imput on this, much appreciated.
    I had never thought of that before, about the beginnings and endings etc.
    Another point of confusion is that both places we attend are both temples and shriines together in the one place, I don’t really get how that works.
    May I ask, just out of sheer nosiness why you don’t do any of the Buddhist things?

  3. Well, to add more confusion to the pot, DH has informed me that I was not entirely correct and you can do the hatsunode at a Buddhist temple if you are so inclined, but the procedure is different. What that means exactly I have no idea.

    His family always goes to a shinto shrine while skipping the whole gonging out the old year thing so he couldn’t tell me specifically. He is not sure if doing the 108 gongs and then turning around and following the Buddhist “procedure” to pray for good luck at all that same time counts or not. He couldn’t say if you can kill two birds with one stone or if officially two separate visits are required.

    So, I guess we can conclude it is “case by case” and confusion reigns supreme, unlike all the other things that are very clea, cut and dry in Japan, no? HAHAHAHA! I crack myself up. (Yes, I am already drinking to prepare for the smelly rellies tomorrow)

    Why don’t I do the Buddhist stuff? Mainly to be an uncooperative ass and piss MIL off, but all of it also creeps me out and some of it actually offends me. That is all I better say before I offend anyone, yk?

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