Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Our Japanese New Year

I did the unthinkable.  we went out and about to explore and I FORGOT MY CAMERA!  ahhhhhhhhh.

I don't know what happened.  momentary insanity. ugh. so we went adventuring all I have are cell phone pictures.  

we were going to go to the Tama zoo- but we arrived to find it closed! ahh.  everybody was royally disappointed so we were driving around looking for another fun option when I spotted a beautiful giant shrine and temple.  Perfect activity for the new year.  The Japanese visit shrines and temples at the new year so they've got booths and all sorts of cool stuff going on!  usually they visit new years day- so it wasn't terribly crowded- but all of the fun stuff was being set up and we could take part!

Mack had a great day hanging out in the baby bjorn and people watching.  he now wants to be outward facing so he can see people.  he's growing up.

There was so much to see. It was especially disappointing without my camera because everything was so colorful and festive.  The colors on my phone are a little wonky because of lighting- but you can get the idea!

the MOST popular food at the street booths were octopus balls. they are so terribly disgusting.  this pic is octo ball prep.  those are giant frozen balls of spare octopus parts and pieces.  ew, yuck,

we did a fun hike where you pass 88 of these miniature shrines. 

 you are supposed to stop- clap twice- and bow to each.  this was metta the ENTIRE hike.  she whined and screamed and cried and wanted to be held.  ugh.  she's definitely hit the terrible twos- just in time to turn three.  let's hope they magically disappear on her third birthday.

you also rub each little head.  they all have hats and bibs ,   Most of their deities are adorned in red to expel illness and demons.

we threw yen in the shrines and did our bowing and clapping- so we should be set for the new year!

this was one of the most colorful shrine and temple grounds we've been to.  I loved it.
we cleansed our hands, too.  we are so lucky the japanese are so welcoming and mild mannered.  I love that it's okay for us to take pictures and take part in their traditions even if they aren't our beliefs.
after our visit- we wandered Tama's main street and ate lunch at a fun little restaurant where we sat on mats and had to remove our shoes.  and we ordered our food from a ticket machine!

 the ticket machines are just a bunch of japanese kanji that we can't read entirely so it can be really tough to eat here!  luckily almost every nice restaurant in Japan has food displays in their windows.   so we took a picture of the food items we wanted and then asked for help ordering from the ticket machine!

the food displays are plastic foods that are terribly expensive to make!  there's an area of tokyo that specializes in making them!  each dish can cost 100+ dollars to create!!  but they are SUPER realistic looking and incredibly helpful for foreigners who want to know what they are going to be eating!!

Zeb got curry.

kent and I shared some udon noodles and katsu pork with eggs and rice.  it's considered very polite TO SLURP your noodles!  metta loves it.

before finding the restaurant we considered having hot lunch from the vending machines.  The corn chowder looks delish,

a man roasting chestnut son the street.

after our day of exploring- we headed home and had our traditonal 2014 awards ceremony!  we even got to open a few packages that arrived late from family in the states!  it was like Christmas all over again!

Ike got the 'excellence in reading and running award'.  he's been a champion reader in kindergarten and has shown vast improvement from the beginning of the year! I am so impressed with how much he loves to read now!  He and I weren't making progress before he started school- but now he's loving it and reading every word in site!!  and he has been quite the little runner with his six miler last month! he also learned to ride a bike in once day when we got here.  he's quite the athlete considering who his parents are :)

Zeb received 'excellence in big brothering and engineering'.  When I got really sick after mack was born- he really stepped up and basically took care of ike for me.  He walked/biked him to his classroom every morning and piked him up after school-and then made sure they didn't bother me once they got home everyday.   His engineering award came from school where they do a ton of STEM projects.  He's  really great at building and designing and problem solving.

metta won the 'big girl award' for her mastery of toilet training and quitting the binky.  binky detox and rehab were tough- but she's been binky free for over a month now!

everybody needs a good grumpy face picture.

afterwards we made cookies and played some games. and I watched a few episodes of the Duggar marathon on AFN (american forces network)  and then we all crashed.  none of us made it to midnight this year!  the more kids I get- the earlier I go to bed!  is that the true sign of becoming an adult???

2015 has started out in true Japanese fashion and we have included some of the Japanese new year traditions into our home.  Their major traditions are the first shrine visit and a big house cleaning to cleanse out spirits and make things fresh for the new year!  we've been cleaning all morning and we have our New Years decor up.  The Yellow lucky cat brings good relationships, the red daruma head is a talisman of good luck and perserverance, and the Kadomatsu is our 'gate pine' with it's three pilars of heaven, humanity, and earth that house ancestral spirits (kami) for the first seven days of the new year!

We also included a picture of the Savior- which is our family belief and faith  We hope and pray that his spirit will fill our home all year long!

 Happy New Year!!  Here's to a fabulous 2015 filled with love and adventure!!


Sherrie Fennell said...

Happy new year!!!!

Pat and Brent said...

Baby Mack is so dang cute! All the kids are growing up way too fast. Your pics are still great. Love to see all your adventures.