Monday, January 01, 2007

Japanese New Year's Eve

I often think that Japanese Christmas and New Year is kind of like the reverse of New Zealand in that Christmas here is a time to spend with friends, whereas New Year is a family time. To be honest, having come from a country where New Year is celebrated in the middle of summer with large parties etc. I have always found Japanese New Year very quiet and relatively boring..... Each year we go to my husband's parent's house, sit around watching a TV program in which two teams (the red and the white team) compete against each other by singing different songs and then wander home once the kids hit their peak...
This year we basically did the same - eating, among other things, lots of raw fish (Amanda's chopstick skills are improving rapidly...) then playing board games before we came home to play a good game of 500.
Just before midnight Hannah and Amanda were taken to the local temple to help ring in the New Year (literally). It is tradition to have the bell rung 108 times at each temple - the reason for which is (as quoted from wikipedia...)
This is to announce the passing of the old year and the coming of the new. The reason they are rung 108 times is because of the Buddhist belief that human beings are plagued by 108 earthly desires or passions (bonno). With each ring one desire is dispelled.

Judging by the video that was taken Hannah and Amanda had no idea what they were doing, so here's hoping all their desires and passions haven't been completely dispelled!

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