Friday, December 28, 2007

New Year's preparations

Well, the year is winding up. I think in Japan, we are officially "end of year" meaning the New Year foods are being sold in the supermarkets and outdoor markets, the decorations that are put up on the doors and cars and being sold by the roadsides and people are in the throws of end of the year cleaning. Being a slight rebel I never see why I have to do what everyone else is doing and I don't like end of the year cleaning. Why start washing windows and floors and changing paper shades and airing futon when it is freezing cold out and threatening to snow!? No thank you, I'll do my spring cleaning in spring. (Well, maybe...) My husband has already announced that he'll help me clean tomorrow so I guess I can't just ignore the custom but I'm not planning to work myself to exhaustion!

And in preparation for the New Year I noticed someone had dressed these little stone statues in bright new red outfits. These are called ojizousan and you can find them all over Japan. I have heard that they are erected for the spirits of unborn children but I'm not sure about that. These are just on the edge of the fields near the farmers' houses and throughout the year someone brings flowers (though for all the years I've lived here I've never once seen anyone actually praying here!) Once a year I guess the same someone makes these little outfits and dresses the ojizousan and towards the end of the year the outfits fade to light pink, I was expecting that they'd have new clothes sometime in the next week and sure enough, here they are brightly decked out!

Yesterday afternoon I went to a cooking class that I attend once a month. As you know, I am a lousy cook and vowed that once the kids were out of the house I'd be adventurous and learn to do more some Japanese cooking. A homestyle Japanese restaurant offered to teach small groups of 4 or 5 people a couple dishes each month so I spend a couple hours cooking with friends and then we bring what we've made home to feed our families that night. I don't know if my cooking abilities are improving but at least once a month Tetsu gets some true Japanese cooking.

And one of my friends at the class gave each of us some chopstick holders that she had made for New Year's. It looks like she has folded a small origami paper into the shape of a crane, the symbol of long life, and the chopsticks slip in to make the New Year's table festive. She also gave me matching toothpick holders! Aren't people clever!


Nancy said...

Such darling gifts!

meggie said...

Another fascinating post! those chopstick holders are lovely. What pretty paper they all have.

Happy New Year Tanya & Tetsu.

Love & Joy for 2008.