Monday, January 2, 2012


Shogatsu is the Japanese word for new year.  This is one of the most important holidays for Japanese and is a family holiday, much like Christmas is for Americans.  People travel to be with their families over the New Year holiday.  The parking area for our building is nearly empty and the only person I've seen is the art professor who lives on the first floor, because everyone is gone to their families elsewhere.

There are many traditions that go with the Japanese New Year celebrations. The end of December and the beginning of January is the busiest time for the post office because of the tradition of sending New Year’s post cards, like sending Christmas cards in the US.

(Correction - New Year’s Eve night we went to the Buddhist temple, not shrine, as I mistakenly wrote in my post yesterday.)

Firsts in the new year are important.  Hatsumode is the first visit to the Shrine in the new year, so Ted and I went on New Year’s Day also. Some shrines have millions of visitors.  It was very crowded and the line was long at the one we went to, which gave us plenty of time to observe. There was one section with food vendors of carnival type food.  The corn dog booth had “French Dogs” written in English on their sign.

The food court

Getting close

Coming and going

When we got to the shrine, there was trough for the five yen coin.  After throwing the coin, you clap twice, bow twice, and say a short prayer. 

There was another place where you could buy your fortune, called Omikuji, which predicts how you will do in business and love in the next year.  If the prediction is bad, you tie it to a tree on the shrine grounds to prevent it from coming true. To be on the safe side, we tied ours on the rack because we didn’t know if it was good or bad.

My fortune

Ted's fortune

In another area was the purification pool, where you could wash away the previous year, so we did that too.

We saw one little dog in line and he barked at us.  The funny thing was that the dog barked in English and not Japanese.

Dragon Update

I’ve been working on the wing, and although I still have a lot to do, it’s coming along.

Happy New Year – the year of the Dragon!

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