More on New Year's celebrations.
Traditional Japanese New Year's food consists of lots of decorative dishes that have various meanings associated with them... long life, happiness, good luck. They are all artistically arranged in lacquered boxes... Unfortunately, our family has never much liked the traditional dishes and so I gratefully skip all that preparation and just toast pounded rice cakes and serve with a variety of toppings... Let's see.. From the top there is sweet bean paste, sweet potato paste with chestnuts, sweet, soy bean powder, sweet beans and butter. I guess we like sweet... And to the far left are the toasted rice cakes... Three types... Tetsu and I ate too much.
One day Tetsu and I went to a pottery town (Mashiko and Kasama) and wandered around a pottery festival. We did this last year too but this year didn't buy anything. Instead we spent some time walking (are resting) in a pottery park that I find magical. Selected town artists have built displays in various corners of the park and it is interesting to stumble upon different works as one walks through the forest and park grounds.
Odd little blue pods with sparkling stars twinkling through the forest shadows.
A ceramic wall.
A pottery bookshelf complete with ceramic books.
A ceramic "bus station" with only luggage waiting on the "platform". (Remember... this is all pottery!)
And I love this display of a thousand sparrows sitting on rails.
But the cutest encounter of the day were these sweet little Chihuahuas dressed in kimono. Happy New Year!