Shotgatsu - New Year's Day in Japan. We celebrated by going to Kashima Jingu shrine today. As we approached we could see it would crowded as there were a lot of cars illegally parked around its perimeter. We ended up parking several blocks away.
I thought it was busy last year when I posted "2006 Has Arrived - Ready Or Not", but it was no match for this year's crowds.
There was a ten minute line just to get to the water fountain where one purifies oneself before entering the shrine. You take a laddle at the fountain, pour water over your left hand, then over your right, then fill your left hand and use the water to rinse your mouth. Rinse the laddle and you're done. Hopefully you remember to bring your "mini-towel" or handkerchief to dry your hands with. It was funny today to watch people who only visit the shrine once in a while. Some were reading and carefully following the directions which are displayed above the fountain, others just faked it. We saw some people drinking water directly from the laddles - a definite "no-no".
Inside the gate it was packed with people going to the Haiden to make an offering and pray or lining up to buy talismans and fortunes and other shrine items. You can compare these pics with those of last year's post as see the difference for yourself.
After making an offering, K bought an "omikuji" - written oracle. We left the crowd and walked the path toward the inner shrine where we waiting in another line to make an offering there. Then we headed for Kanameishi.
The kanameishi is a huge keystone which rests on the head of the giant catfish. Just the tip of the stone protrudes above ground level. Another kanameishi can be found at Katori Jingu in Chiba prefecture which is closely affiliated with Kashima Jingu.
From there, we were off to Mitarashi pond and spring where later this month, many people dressed only in a few pieces of cotton cloth will enter the frigid waters for the Misugi purification ceremony which you can read about HERE.
It was time to head back to the car. We took a side path to avoid the crowds at the entrance and most of the booths selling food, souvenirs, toys, etc., which line the main path and street leading to the shrine.
Okonomi means "whatever you like" and yaki means "grilled", so okonomiyaki is Japan's version of the slogan "have it your way". It starts with a kind of pancake made with flour and grated yam to which is added shredded cabbage and pork. You can choose additional ingredients which may include squid, pickled ginger, cheese, nori, veggies, and so on.
We passed on the food booths as we had plenty to eat waiting for us at home, including ozoni soup with mochi, and a host of osechi-ryori dishes - traditional Japanese new year foods - such as nimono, a simmered dish with gobo (burdock root), satoimo (taro), carrot, shiitake mushroom; kazunoko(herring roe); prawns; Date-maki(rolled sweet omelet); and a bunch of other stuff I forget the names of - variously prepared by K, her mother, and her sister.
When we got home, we played with Momo and saw to it she got a long walk. Just after dark we grabbed a flashlight and walked down to our local shrine, Tsubaki (camelia). The shrine is small, half an acre or so, but covered in Japanese cedars and oak trees which makes it feel remote. At night it gets very dark inside. We left a small offering and returned home. So ended the first day of our new year.
2007 stretches before us all, full of challenges and promise. While we cannot control which way the wind blows, we can adjust our sails.
Akemashite Omedetou Gozaimasu
Hau'oli Makahiki Hou
Happy New Year
Hau'oli Makahiki Hou
Happy New Year