J Journal

日本の新年

This is my second new year in Japan and I think it’s about time I write about it.

Oh, and I will not be talking about the year-end or countdown parties they have in the city center. I’m writing about the locals’ new year, how our family celebrates it. I should mention that fireworks have nothing to do with Japanese new year.

In the Philippines, we usually don’t eat dinner, we go to mass and prepare for the big feast for medianoche. So I tried doing the same this New Year’s eve but K said They don’t wait until midnight to eat. We ended up eating from 8 until midnight! I’m sure some families in the Philippines do the same 🤣

The crab is my favorite food this season, which I thought is one of their traditional new year food. I found out today that when my in-laws were kids, it was traditionally king prawns being served. They find significance with the prawns’ bent shape, you live long until your body bends due to old age. It has some similarity with the Chinese eating long noodles for long life.

But now we eat the king crab just because we love to eat it 🤣

Just like in the Philippines, before the feast, we visit the Buddhist temple and the Shinto shrine. My in-laws have a mixed religion just like me and my husband. Earlier today, we were planning to visit the church near our apartment, too bad it was closed. Behind this temple is their family grave where we lighted some incense. Being raised as a Catholic I offered my prayers, while they chant.

Here at the Shinto shrine, we rang the bell, tossed a coin, bowed twice, clap twice and then one last bow. It’s like the Shinto’s sign of the cross. There’s also a copper statue of a cow where Okasan rubs its eyes, wishing for good eyesight. It’s similar to Catholics rubbing the feet of the dead Jesus statues in church.

After that, we went to their house and prepared the food.

They hang わじめ in front of their home just like a palaspas, but they do it for good fortune.

Of course, they have the traditional new year mochi. I’ve always wondered how this becomes a mochi, it never occurred to me that it is actually just a hallow case covering the mochi inside 🤦🏽‍♀️

The fish in the middle is like the Japanese Lapu-Lapu called “Tai”. They always serve it during New Year for good fortune. The name rhymes with “omedetai” which means congratulations or good luck in some way.

Finally, at sundown, we get to see Mt. Fuji’s silhouette from their balcony. K gets excited whenever he gets to see Mt. Fuji. He bowed and clapped at Mt. Fuji just like at the Shinto shrine. 

We went home by bicycle under the bright full moon, grateful for 2017 and looking forward to the rest of 2018.

That’s it for today’s blog みんなさん!あけましておめでとうございます!

I wish you all a happy new year and I hope you get the best out of 2018!

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