Archives for the day Monday, June 1st, 2009

New Year in Japan: Part II

 In previous entry on New Years day in Japan titled “A Happy New Year: Part I“, I wrote about how we cerebrate New Years day. Here,I like to write more on the day.

 In Japan,visiting shrine or temple on New Years Day is main event of the day. Very crowded at shrine,temple and traffic is very bad. But people go there to pray. What they pray for? They pray for health and happiness and good luck for the new year. Since the visit will be the very first visit to shrine/temples in the new year,we call the event “Ha Tsu Mo U De”. How we pray maybe sounds a little odd to you.

 Usually,when you come to shrine/temple,you have a bell with rope hanging down at the praying area. People come there,toss coins to coin box (wooden box) and ring the bell,bow twice,clap hands two times, bow again. We usually toss 5 yen coin that has hole in the center. Five in Japanese is “Go” and 5 yen in Japanese is Go EN,and GOEN in Japanese means connect. We toss the 5 yen coin praying for connecting to good luck. Some people toss different kinds of coins,but our family mostly tossed 5 yen because of 5 yen equal to GOEN. Over all,5 yen is used for tossing for any events that people wants to wish to connect with good luck in the future. People who have just building the house would hold Mochi nage event (Tossing rice cake,snacks,5 yen coins from frame base of the new home to crowd under,and flocked neighbors try catching the Mochi (rice cake),snacks,5 yen.

 Also, 5 yen is used for kind of like amulet. I keep 5 yen coin in my wallet for good luck. Some people put miniature frog accessory thing in their wallet for good luck because frog in Japanese is ” Ka E Ru” and “Kaeru ”  also means “come back”. So, people put the frog accessory hoping that the money that out from their wallet would come back to their wallet again.Some people put turtle key chain hoping for longevity. As you know,turtles live long and, people put it hoping for living long.

 I also have used 5 yen coin for good luck for other occasion. It was when I needed to take entrance test for high school and University. I have put 5 yen coin in my school uniform pocket,took test, left the 5 yen coin in the desk I took test on. Did it work? It did In Japan, students take test for high school,and for University.

 Second big event for the new year is resolution. In Japan, people write their resolution for coming year on 2nd of January.It is first calligraphy of the year called “Ka ki zo me “.

 Third event of the year maybe tradition of eating porridge on January 7th. You are supposed to eat 7 grasses of spring in the porridge dish hoping for good health.

 Forth event of the new year will be .. Kagami biraki. On Jan 1st,people put 2 circle mirror shaped rice cakes display in kitchen. Mirror in Japanese is “kagami” so,we call the rice cake “kagami mochi”- mirror rice cake.One is small,one is large and put the small one on top of large one and put one orange on top. We keep it there for 10 days and on 11th of January,we take it down and eat them. Mochi by the time has cracks in it so,in my family, we ate them deep-fried and salted right after it comes out from the oil.It tastes good!

 Japan has traditional new year game too. Actually,6 games. One of them is “Hane Tsuki”. It is kind of like badminton for 2 people. You would use the badminton racket to play badminton,but with Hanetsuki,you will use ..less than 1 feet long wooden racket. We call the wooden racket “Hagoita” and call shuttlecock “Hane”. Difference between playing badminton and Hanetsuki will be you will get X mark drawn IF you loose (with ink on your face),and playing with different type of racket.

 Other games will be flying kite,top(Koma in Japanese),Fuku warai, and Sugoroku,and karuta.

 With top,you wind the string around the top and throw it to the ground and let the top rolling and if you play with somebody,you will loose if your top stopped rolling.

 Fuku warai is simple. Your kids probably enjoy this game too. First there is a paper that has human face outline (Traditionally,face line is woman) and cut-up parts (eyes,eyebrows,nose,mouth,hair). The player get blindfolded,and people hand the cut-up parts of the face and player put the part onto paper that has human face outline on. And enjoy the result of how one placed the parts on paper.

 Sugoroku is, board game that you win if you completed the steps.

 Karuta is a traditional game,which people compete trying to pick up the picture card that matches the opening lines read out loud by one people from proverbs and ancient Japanese poems. You can arrange this for kids to play. You just need to create 2 cards that would match when one of the card is read out loud. For example,to be easy,one card can be “Bow Wow” and match up card picture be a dog.
Usually,traditional karuta game has so many card placed on ground,it is very hard to pick the right one very fast before other one gets it. It is fun game to play.

 Do you have any traditional things to do,to play,to eat on New Years Day? 

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Jun 01, 2009 | Comments are off | Uncategorized