Sunday, January 4, 2009

Ii Shogatsu Debiru

New Year's in the Goya Republic is a festive time of year. Typically the holiday is celebrated by visiting a temple. Around the temples the atmosphere is very carnival like and many vendors offer all kinds of goodies for the masses. Traditional Japanese fare will include goodies like BBQ'd squid, Yakisoba (a fried soba noodle treat), Yakitori (roasted chicken pieces on a stick), fried rice and more. for those a little on the squeamish side, non-traditional fare includes more international treats like roasted sweet corn, hot spicy sausages on a stick and french fried potatoes. Sweets are abundant with cotton candy, candy apples and even ice cream. This year was a bit colder than previous years so I don't think the ice cream sold very well this time around.

We arrived around 10 am and at this time of day the crowds at the temple were quite thin. That didn't last for long. By the time we left a little over an hour later the line of people entering the temple was already out the torii gate you see here and halfway down the block. I attribute the slow start to the late night revelry associated with the holiday. With New years eve being on a Wednesday, this particular holiday celebration lasted through Sunday. That made for a lot of partying.
One of the things we had hoped to see more of was the locals dressed in traditional garb for the holiday. To that we were a little disappointed but we did see this mother and daughter who arrived early and the young gal was dressed in a traditional Japanese Kimono.
One older couple came out in their very best costumes for the occasion. It was easy to see the generational difference. The gentleman was very traditional often going off on his own with his wife left to catch up and even then follow a few steps behind him.

Lastly, whenever you visit a Buddhist Shrine or temple, it's customary to wash your hands as well as rinse your mouth in a symbolic cleansing. I really loved the expression on the little girls face here as well as her outfit. It is not a Kimono but in many aspects, the design resembles one. To her right, a mother, appearantly visiting her son's in the military (immediately behind her) partakes in and most importantly respects the local traditions by washing her hands too.

For more detailed information on the holiday and local practices, please check out my "Expatriate Games" blog and scroll down to the post titles "O shogatsu: Happy New Year in the Goya Republic" for more details.

Also click on the title to this post to see some of my genuine Goya Republic goodies for sale.

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