Tuesday, December 31, 2019

Lucky Japanese New Year Traditions

There are quite a few Japanese superstitions.  Some people believe in all of them; some people claim not to believe; many people say they don't believe, but still take part just in case they really do bring good luck.  Here are a few associated with the new year celebrations.  

Before New Year's Eve 

You need a kagami mochi in your house. It has two mochi rice balls beneath a daidai (Japanese mandarin).  The name means "mirror mochi".  It has two levels of mochi to double your luck. Daidai roughly translates to "generation after generation", representing health and prosperity to your descendants. 

Kadomatsu are made of pine and bamboo and are place in front of homes or shops to welcome Shinto gods.  Kado means gate and matsu means pine.  They are meant as temporary dwelling places for the gods. Later in January, they are burnt with the other new year decorations. 

New Year's Eve (Omisoka)

The traditional new year's eve food is toshikoshi soba (year-crossing buckwheat noodles). The long noodles are said to represent longevity; biting the noodles symbolizes cutting the woes from the previous year; and the hardiness of the buckwheat plant represents resilience. 

One of the most important rituals for Buddhist temples in Japan is Joya no Kane.  Temples sound their bells at midnight on new year's eve 108 times to relieve listeners from the 108 types of bonnou - earthy desires and feelings, such as anger and jealousy, that plague humans.  To start the year fresh, it is done on New Year's Eve. 

New Year's Day (Ganjitsu) 

Hatsuhinode - watch the first sunrise.  This is a symbolic move to welsome the new year god. It is believed that the first prayer or wish of the new year will come true. 

Fukubukuro or lucky bags are sold all over Japan at all kinds of shops. The tradition of filling bags with random goods at a discount is said to come from the Japanese proverb that says "There is fortune in leftovers".  (Nokorimono ni wa fuku ga aru). 

Best Wishes to You for a healthy, prosperous, and lucky New Year!

Monday, December 30, 2019

Monday Morning Star Count - Week 34 and Three Year Comparison

Year Three of the temperature quilt  

Week 34 

December 15 - 21 

55, 54, 48, 64, 48, 59, 46

Year 3

Year 2

Year 1

I am reporting the high temperature each day.  My Year Three temperature/color (Fahrenheit) scheme remains the same: 

100 + Brown 

90-99 Red  

80-89 Orange 

70-79 Yellow  

60-69 Green  

50-59 Blue 

40-49 Purple 

30-39 Pink 

20-29 White 

10-19 Black  

You can see my finished Year One Quilt here.

Sunday, December 29, 2019

Finish It In 2019 - Last Finish It Post for 2019

I wasn't able to finish all that I started, but I did finish a good bit. So, first the finishes since the last post. You can see all of my Finish It in 2019 items here.

Felt Wrist Pin Cushion

Started 2019, Finished 2019

Cabin Fever

Started 2019, Finished 2019

Cathedral Windows Mug Rug

Started 2019, Finished 2019

Beaded Cherry Fobs

Started 2019, Finished 2019

And the other things I started in 2019, but not yet finished --

The stitching is finished on the following, but they need to be made into proper ornaments.

Saturday, December 28, 2019

Kiyosu Castle and Park

Japan has so many interesting, historical places to visit, but travel can be expensive. Three times a year Japan Railways offers an inexpensive way to travel on its trains, called Seishun Ju Hachi Kippu. The ticket is good for five days travel (doesn't need to be consecutive) for 12050 yen (the price went up 200 yen this time, maybe because of the consumption tax increase in October). 

Last Saturday, I decided to travel to the Nagoya area in Aichi Prefecture to visit Kiyosu Castle. This is a reconstructed castle that was built in 1989.  The site of the original castle was on the other side of the bridge, where the park is now. The entry fee is 300 yen and photos and shoes are not allowed inside the castle. There are four floors of displays and information in Japanese. The good thing is that there was an English audio guide. Before going inside, I walked around the outside and took photos. The inside and the outside are really well done.

On the other side of the bridge is a visitor center that does allow photos. There is a small display area with interesting exhibits and an omiyage shop.  I bought a few post cards.

There is also a park with some gorgeous Japanese maple trees. Even though the calendar said it was the first day of winter, it was a nice autumn day.

I left the castle and headed back to the train station.  My day wasn't over yet.  Next stop, Atsuta.

(If you are interested in Japanese Castles, check out my Castle Page to see the castles I've visited.)