Saturday, December 27, 2008

My Shimekazari (New Year's Wreath)

Just like Christmas has many traditional decorations in the United States and other countries around the world, Japanese New Year’s has its own share of traditional decorations. They serve as a charm against evil spirits. The sacred rice straw indicates a purified place for receiving divinities. By attaching good luck charms like bitter oranges, blossoms, pine, Shinto paper, 7 Gods of fortune, Tai fish, Temple guardian lions (shi shi mai), Maneki Neko - etc.... all help attract Luck and Good Fortune for the coming year!

This website explains a lot of other things seen and heard of in Japan and I'm anxious to get a better look at it...and to talk a walk around Kamakura and Zushi to see them for myself. I have seen kagamimochi at Maruetsu and Costco, but will be on the lookout for more new things.

Once a week for the last six weeks I've been taking Japanese lessons. I'm enjoying learning new things and it's become especially helpful to know what some people are saying when we walk into a store! My sensei, Mizuha san is wonderful. She's so kind and sweet and really wants to see us do well. At our last class before Christmas she gave each of us a shimekazari, or a wreath for New Years. I have it hanging in the sliding glass door of the kitchen and plan to hang it every year from now on, whether or not we're in Japan. The label I think reads, "To: Katie san From: Mizuha."

Mizuha san brought wreaths for us to decorate with ribbon, a bell and origami flower, but the catch was we had to make the flower. I have little patience, those of you that know me well know that about me. I can sit and type or read, take pictures of little kids or even scrapbook, but when it comes to folding little pieces of paper my patience wear thin! That's why I always opt for stickers, right Shari?! Mizuha san showed us what our finished product had the potential to be, but alas, no such luck for me. Folding the leaves, petals and flowers of one origami flower took me the near hour our class went for, so I ended up with one. But it's pretty, it's mine and I made it, so gosh darnet, it's hanging in my kitchen!

And I want to say hi to Hang Ja, another woman in my class! She peaks in once in a while...I'll see you after the new year!