Hubby’s birthday was on 12th March. Although hubby and I are not into celebrating birthdays or anniversaries in a big grand way, we usually have some simple funny celebrations to create happy memories for us. On 11th March, I went to a convenience store near our home and bought pancakes with three kinds of toppings, namely strawberry jam, pineapple jam, and whipped cream. I also bought several petit cheese cakes and custard pudding. We live in a village and it is very difficult to find shops selling fancy candles, so every year I end up using candles from our ‘emergency earthquake kit’ though I used tiny ones this year.
I arranged the pancakes, cheese cakes, custard pudding, and tiny candles equivalent to hubby’s age on a plate. I lit the candles and was all set by 11.55 pm. Hubby was fast asleep but I woke him up exactly at 00.00 hour on 12th March and wished him a very happy birthday. He was nice enough not to grumble as he usually gets irritated when woken up from sleep. He blew all the candles out and we ate all the sweets.
A plate arranged with pancakes, petit cheese cakes, and tiny lit candles. I kept the custard pudding in another dish as there was no space in the plate due to too many candles.
Enlarged photo of the pancakes with all the three toppings, petit cheese cakes, and custard pudding
Hubby is blowing out the candles. There are too many candles to blow out in one breath.
Hubby having custard
Afterwards hubby relit all the candles and watched until all of them burnt out. A lot of wax remained on the plate, so he made a Diya lamp. In fact, arranging clay Diya lamps all around the home was my most favorite activity for Diwali festival during early childhood in India. But this time I improvised and told hubby to use aluminum cupcake mould that I had at home instead of clay Diya, and used wax instead of Ghee oil. In addition, he made wick from string used for rolling Chashu pork instead of the usual cotton balls. Making Diya lamp was a first-time experience for hubby and the result was very nice. Initially he was rather curious but afterwards he was very happy and enjoyed the burning Diya lamp for quite some time. In fact, I was overjoyed to see that he made the Diya lamp with two wicks, one for me and the other for him. It was so kind and considerate of him. I am thankful that God put the most wonderful husband in the world in my path. I am very happy and thankful for all the joy of having a loving and understanding hubby.
Hubby relit the candles and watched until all of them burnt out
Hubby making a Diya lamp
Hubby was initially rather curious to see the burning Diya lamp but was very happy afterwards
Diya lamp with two wicks
This year is considered to be hubby’s unlucky Yakudoshi age. In Japan, Yakudoshi refers to the belief that there are certain ages in one's life when their bad luck increases and good luck diminishes. Although it is just a superstitious belief, on 8th March hubby and I went to a Shinto shrine named Sanjin Gosaiden to pray for a healthy and good life for hubby and ward off any danger. The shrine is located at the top of Mount Haguro in Tsuruoka City of Yamagata prefecture. Mount Haguro is one of the three sacred mountains clustered together in the ancient province of Dewa. The other two mountains are Mount Gassan and Mount Yudono. The three mountains are collectively known as Dewa Sanzan. Sanjin Gosaiden Shrine is unique and important because it holds the deities from all three Dewa Sanzan shrines. Hubby and I had earlier visited Mount Haguro in October 2009 and the details about our visit to the mountain and the shrine can be found in this blog post.
The base of Mount Haguro is located about 105 kilometers south of our home in Yurihonjo City. We went to the mountain shrine by our car. After about 130 minutes of car ride, as we neared the mountain, we saw a huge red-lacquered gate named Otorii. Otorii represents the gateway to the entrance of the sacred precincts where shrine deities reside. Otorii was built in 1923, and is 21 meters high and 15 meters wide. We loved the grand Otorii Gate. After another 20 minutes of car ride, we reached the base of the mountain. At the base area, we walked along a walking trail surrounded by dense cedar forest. After about 5 minutes of walking, we reached a beautiful red-lacquered holy bridge named Shinkyo that crosses River Haraigawa. From the bridge, we got a beautiful view of Suga Waterfall and rugged cliffs that made for a stunning scene. It was winter season and therefore the entire trail was covered with dense snow. At one point hubby’s leg got stuck in the snow. So we walked cautiously along the trail and after another 5 minutes we reached in front of a five-storied pagoda. The pagoda was originally built in Johei era (931-938) and rebuilt in 1372. The 640-year-old pagoda is made entirely from wood and has thin wooden shingled roofs. The pagoda is 29 meters high and was built without a single nail. It is designated as a national treasure. The pagoda looked so elegant and graceful surrounded by cedar forest and the winter snow.
I am standing on Shinkyo Bridge along with Suga Waterfall in the background
Hubby’s leg got stuck in the snow while walking along the trail
Hubby and the five-storied wooden pagoda
After viewing the pagoda, we returned to the car parking area and next went to see Sanjin Gosaiden Shrine located at the top of Mount Haguro. We went to the top of the mountain by our car itself as the mountain is not so high. On reaching the summit, we walked along a paved pathway for about 10 minutes. But on reaching the shrine area, we realized that the main shrine was closed and not accessible during winter months. There was 3-meter-high snow all around this main shrine. But a sub-shrine named Reisaiden, located just next to the main shrine, was open. Reisaiden sub-shrine is a majestic red-lacquered building that was rebuilt in 1983. It is a single-storied wooden building having Irimoya-zukuri, Chidorihafu, and Gokensha-zukuri (five-bay sanctuary) architectural styles. We appreciated the architecture of the sub-shrine for some time and then went inside and I prayed for a healthy and good life for hubby. Afterwards I prayed some more standing in the snow outside the sub-shrine.
Hubby standing in front of Reisaiden sub-shrine
Hubby standing at the entrance area of the sub-shrine
I am praying standing in the snow outside the sub-shrine
Afterwards we left the shrine premises and next visited Mount Haguro ski resort area located just 2 kilometers south of the shrine premises. We enjoyed wonderful panoramic view near the ski resort area. Hubby wanted to ski but it was getting late, so we just watched several skiers skiing around and then left the area to return home.
Mount Haguro ski resort area
Snow everywhere near chairlift station
Beautiful panoramic view as seen from the ski resort area