Year of the Horse

Happy New Year! yes 2 weeks late, although that seems to be the theme around here at present. Having returned from our mini stay cation at Okuma on New Years Eve we opted for a low key affair, which meant that we were all in bed before midnight; although Matt, Clio & myself woke at twelve to a bang from the fireworks, Eden slept right through it; no surprise there!

First sunrise of 2014

First sunrise of 2014

However we did manage a wee trip for some mouth-watering soba with friends; a Japanese New Years Eve tradition. Eating noodles on New Years Eve is supposed to keep one on the path of good fortune, to wish for a life thats as long as the long skinny noodles being eaten.

It was a good thing we did have an early night because the following morning I woke the troops up before the sun had started to rise and we headed down to Nakagusuku Bay area to catch the first sunrise of 2014.

As the sun started to rise we, along with hundreds of locals, watched while listening to Ryukyukoku Matsuri Daiko, a local eisa group. It was very special.

New Year 3

After lunch and attempting to clean the house; another Japanese New Year tradition, we visited Futenma Shrine. The first shrine visit of the New Year is known as Hatsumode, with many people visiting on the first, second or third day of the year. Visitors make wishes for the new year, new omamori (charms) are purchased and the old ones are returned to be burnt.

Futenma Shrine, Matt & Eden making their wish

Futenma Shrine, Matt & Eden making their wish

We were a tad overwhelmed when we reached the temple, which was within walking distance from Legion Gate on Camp Foster, as neither of us knew what we were doing, and there were SO MANY PEOPLE, who obviously did know what they were doing!

After accessing the situation for a couple of minutes we realized we needed to wash our hands and mouths, although I have since discovered that there is an order to how you do this; left hand, right hand, mouth – although don’t drink the water. The purpose of doing so is to cleanse your body and mind before entering the shrine.

Ema (small wooden plaques),  O-mikuji (fortunes written on strips of paper), our omamori

Ema (small wooden plaques), O-mikuji (fortunes written on strips of paper), our omamori

Once we were cleansed we took turns at lining up to make our wishes at the shrine. Again, not really knowing what we were doing we sort of just copied what others did, which was…throwing money into the offertory box, take two deep bows, make your wish, then make two claps followed by one more bow. We did it wrong, but we know better for next year!

Lastly we purchased our omamori; being the year of the horse we purchased a small wooden horse which came in this cute wooden box. I am sad that we will need to take it back in a year to be burned.

Thankfully we had eaten lunch before we came because there was a plethora of street vendors selling scrumptious looking food, toys and other goodies and generally when it comes to food we have no self-control! We did splurge on a raspberry snow cone for Eden and we couldn’t resist sampling the fresh made obanyaki.

yummy food from the street vendors

yummy food from the street vendors

The whole day was an amazing experience and I can not wait to do it again in a years time, although this time, we will not be so overwhelmed and actually know what we are doing!

beautiful sunrise

beautiful sunrise


4 responses to “Year of the Horse

    • Mr C, I really hope that our girls grow up with a passion for traveling and seeing the world, but if not, I do hope that the traveling and experiences they have will at the very least help them to enjoy, respect and appreciate other cultures. I think they are two pretty lucky little girls!

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