Posts Tagged new year
Happy New Year!
Today I went to Mishima Taisha with The Penpal and her parents. The weather was beautiful; sunny and 10 degrees ABOVE zero. Usually in Winnipeg it would be sunny and somewhere around minus 20.
As usual, the shrine was completely packed with people going to pray for good luck in the upcoming year. As a rule, Japanese people are not religious, but they do regularly visit Shinto shrines for big events, likely more out of tradition than religious obligation. We worked our way through the crowd up to the front of the shrine, dodging flying coins from people who didn’t have the patience to get all the way to the front. As I clapped to get the attention of the gods of the shrine, I decided that 2006 was going to be MY year.
After surviving the crowds, we returned to The Penpal’s house. The Penpal and her mother went into the kitchen to prepare dinner, while The Penpal’s father and I watched TV and talked. I got some good Japanese practice, and felt like I was part of the family, which was pretty great.
Today I had a lazy day off. In the evening, The Penpal’s family took me out for delicious ramen. Yum! After dinner, we went back to their house and had grilled mochi, which is a Japanese New Year’s tradition.
I learned about New Year’s mochi in my Introduction to Japanese class that I took in University. The classic tradition is to take rice and pound it with a giant wooden mallet until it turns into a sticky rice cake. I was hoping to get a chance to try out my mallet swinging skills, but found out that all of the mochi had already been made in The Penpal’s aunt’s mochi machine. I would be lying if I said I wasn’t disappointed, but it was probably for the best. At my best I am pretty clumsy and would have likely smashed someones fingers with the mallet.
We grilled the mochi on a small indoor grill, and then ate it wrapped in seaweed or cheese. The rice cakes were sticky and delicious, and it was a fun experience for all. It was also very good Japanese practice for me. Good times!
Most of Japan shuts down round New Year, and for a change NOVA was no exception. The one downside is that bank machines are also shut down, so you need to plan ahead for spending cash. I still don’t understand the need to shut down bank machines at any time, especially in a mostly cash based economy.
The day off was great. I sat on my butt, played video games and watched a lot of TV in the common room at Hello House. Included in my viewing was British detective show “A Touch of Frost” and Robocop. Fortunately this time it was the excellent original Robocop, and not the shockingly bad Robocop 3 that I endured a few weeks earlier.