Sunday, January 6, 2008

Happy New Year 2008

the year of the Rat
(aaron is a rat)
For New Years, which is one of the biggest holidays here in Japan, Aaron and I went with some friends to stay with another Fulbright fellow, Andrea, in Kyoto. Kyoto has hundreds of temples so we had lots to do that night. We started out by having some soba (buckwheat) noodles. Eating these on New Years eve is supose to give you luck in the New year. All these traditions really focus on bringing luck in the new year. People are very careful not to do anything that woukd bring bad luck on this night. After the noodles, we got some famous Kyoto green tea sofuto aisu, soft serve icecream, but way better.

From the left Katherine, Aaron, Ben S., Andrea, and Hannah
At the Shinto shrine, you get paper fortunes and you tie them onto special posts or trees. This one was covered witht them.

Ben is going back to America soon for a while to do his medical college interviews, so he was really trying to get a lot of luck on his side. This rope thingy on fire is like a lucky fire that you bring from the temple and use to light your house's hearth fire with...but not many people heat their houses with a blazing fire anymore, but it is stil a lucky thing to do.

Katherine is interested in Andrea's rope it seems.

After a stop back at Andrea's to refuel on junk food, we went to a Buddhist temple where we had to remove our shoes (it was freezing out, but shoes must come off), then sit till all our legs where numb.But the service is beautiful and I found it peaceful. Oh, then we shook a giant prayer bead that went all the way around the room. The picture above shows us all sitting around passing and and shaking this giant prayer bead.

Then we went back outside to wait to ring the GIANT bell. Huge bell. Everytime it rang my camera went out of focus. Weird. The bell is suppose to ring 108 times, to rinse away the 108 sins of humanity, or that was what we kind of figured out from the monk's explanation. But since there was more than 108 people there, it rang way more than that. You had to get a kind of ticket in order to ring the bell and it had a number on it. We were 123, and 124 in line... we waited in the freezing cold for about 1 hour 30 min to ring it, but it was so cool when we did.

Then the party! Back to Andrea's for junk food and, no joke, Moet E Chardon Champagne with real gold flakes in our cups. Felt rather posh. Here Hannah is demonstrating how one drinks such a posh drink...two at a time.

Junk food round 2...chocolate explosion.

I am pretty sure she is pointing at Aaron for doing something silly.

Here is 0ur video of our Kanpai toast and Happy New Year.

Hope everyone had a safe and hangover free New Years.


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