Happy New Year! I hope you all had a good holiday. In this new year holiday, I went back to my hometown to see my parents. In Japan, there are many auspicious things in new year.
This is Mt. Fuji from the Shinkansen (bullet train) on my way home. Mt. Fuji is the highest and the most sacred mountain in Japan. A lot of Japanese people come to see Mt. Fuji with sunrise because new year god comes with sunrise. (But you cannot climb up in the mountain in winter, just enjoy the view.) If you get on the Shinkansen bound for west cities, such as Kyoto and Osaka from Tokyo, make reservation on the right side seat.
This is the Shimenawa of my parents' house in this year. This is a straw rope decorated with fern leaves and other happy items. Straw is for good rice harvest in the coming year. Ours has a crane decoration, a crane means long life in Japan. This is hung like this on doors during the New Year holidays as a charm against evil spirits.
At lunch time, we eat Osechi food, which is the dish for our new year god. Each food in these boxes has meaning. For example, slices of steamed fish paste have happy red and white color, meaning sunrise. Sweet black beans mean good health. Salted herring roe means being blessed with children.
And we eat sushi with sake at our family party. Both are happy dish and drink for Japanese people. Once we serve them to our god, we eat and drink all.
For children, the highlight of the new year holiday is money gift from parents and relatives! The average amount per gift is about from JPY3,000 to JPY10,000, depends on the age. We put the money in the special envelope.
In the morning, to make our stomach relax, we eat soup with rice cake. The rice cake is the ones we served for our god in the new year. Everything in the new year related with god and auspicious things.
And do not forget to visit a shrine to ask your with this year!