We spent New Year’s this year in the US, not Japan, since we already went in August1 but we had a good time overall.
First my wife did a nice job decorating the house:
That is a kadomatsu on the windowsill, plus other Japanese-style decorations we put on the window. She also cooked a lot of kinpira and nii-mono for a New Year’s Eve Party at our friends house.
We had a good time at the party. We watched the usual year-end special, Kōhaku (紅白歌合戦) which was on cable TV here in the US that evening. Since Seattle is almost a day behind Japan, we could see who won, but we avoided it so we could still see the surprise.
Personally, I was kind of annoyed that Kohaku had no KPop groups this year, but Perfume, Arashi and Kanjani Eight were all on, so I watched it anyway. Also, we did so much talking and eating, we didn’t really watch the show very much. My friend recommended recording it, because you can enjoy it later, but skip all the groups you don’t like. Good advice. 😉
However, I was extremely sleepy that night. The night before, I slept really poorly so by 9pm, I couldn’t keep my eyes open anymore. We spent the night at our friends house, so we all brought sleeping bags, and I went to bed at the same time as my daughter and her friends. They all slept in one room, I slept in the room next door. As a father, I was worried about my daughter, because she gets scared without Daddy or Mommy, but she did really well. I was pretty proud of her.
Unlike Japan, I only get one day off from work, so we did a lot of things on Wednesday. We left our friends’ house early, came home, and then drove to a Shingon Buddhist temple in Redmond called jingoji (神護寺) for hatsumōde, the first temple visit of the year. Their website is in both Japanese and English. From North Seattle it is about 30-40 minutes drive, but it was a nice, small and friendly temple.
This temple had hourly services, and my wife is having another Yakudoshi year, so we also paid to get a special purification and ofuda tablet to help protect her throughout the year.
The priest, Rev. Missho, was a very nice American fellow who had a Japanese wife, and a daughter the same age as mine. The two girls got along well. As a coincidence, Missho and I knew each other from the old E-sangha Buddhist forum, but never met in person. It was very strange meeting some you knew online 5 years ago, in person, by chance. Life is interesting, no? 🙂
Here’s a photo of the temple:
We had a nice ceremony there, but it was so icy cold, I could feel my fingers and toes getting a little numb toward the end. 😉 Anyhow, Rev. Missho and I had a good conversation about temples we’ve visited in Japan (we both have been to the same ones) and E-sangha members we knew, plus other Buddhist-nerd things. Since I am currently looking for a new Buddhist temple, I might come back and visit again soon.
After that, we went home, and enjoyed Japanese osechi-ryōri (おせち料理):
My wife prepared the food herself (it wasn’t a set), but used a Disney-shaped box we got in 2011 for Japanese New Year. We also ate ozōni which is a light soup usually with mochi in it. I don’t want to brag, but my wife makes a really good ozoni. 🙂
We spent the afternoon together building some Nanoblocks I got for Christmas. This is the completed set:
This is the temple of Kinkakuji, which I visited in 2005:
In the evening, my daughter and I played Lego Pirates of the Caribbean2 together all night.
All in all, the New Year’s was really fun, we had good food, and lots of memories to share together. Although it wasn’t’ in Japan, we still had a great time. 🙂
1 Thanks to fuel prices, and expensive yen, it’s getting more expensive every year. I may not go at all in 2013 to save some money.
2 A very addicting game.