Tuesday, January 19, 2016

New Year holidays

Hubby and I had been to our home in Ichinomiya City during the New Year holidays and after returning back to Yurihonjo, I had not been keeping well due to the extreme cold weather. Now I am a bit alright and back to blogging. I will write about the New Year holidays in this post. I should mention here that there are still a few places or events hubby and I visited in 2015 about which I have yet to write. I was actually thinking of skipping writing but hubby feels that this blog is a sort of our web diary, so I decided to write about those places and events after this blog post.

30th December 2015
During the New Year holidays, hubby and I went to hubby’s ancestral home in Ichinomiya City of Aichi prefecture and also met a few of our relatives in the city. On 30th December, we left our home in Yurihonjo City at 12.30 pm and reached Akita Airport after about 45 minutes of car drive. Our flight to Centrair Airport in Aichi prefecture was at 4.30 pm. We still had a lot of time, so we had lunch at a restaurant and bought a few souvenirs for relatives from a kiosk at Akita Airport. After about an hour of flight, we reached Centrair Airport. From there we took a train and reached Ichinomiya Railway Station after another 45 minutes. My father-in-law and his wife were waiting for us at the station and we directly went to a restaurant and had dinner. Finally we reached our home in Ichinomiya at about 9 pm. We were rather tired due to all the travel, and went to bed immediately.
About to board the air plane at Akita airport

Hubby and the air plane

We took a train from Centrair Airport and are on our way to Ichinomiya Railway Station

31st December 2015
On 31st December, father-in-law, his wife, hubby, and a few other relatives went to play golf at Springfield Golf Club in Tajimi City of Gifu prefecture. They left home at about 6 am. I am not at all interested in golf, and so I preferred to stay at home and relaxed all day. In the afternoon, hubby’s sister and her two daughters visited our home. It was nice to chat with them, play some card games, and try to solve Rubik’s cube. At about 5.30 pm, hubby and father-in-law returned home after playing golf. Later in the evening we all had dinner at a Chinese restaurant located near our home.
Hubby’s sister and her younger daughter at our Ichinomiya home

Hubby with his nieces watching some program on television

1st January 2016
On 1st January 2016, hubby and I just relaxed and enjoyed being at home. January 1st is considered to be a very auspicious day in Japan, and is best started by viewing Hatsuhinode which is the first sunrise of the New Year. Hatsuhinode is traditionally believed to be representative for the whole year that has just commenced. So awakening before sunrise is considered important to view the first sunrise of the year. However an apartment complex blocks the east side of our home, and therefore I watched television networks broadcasting live the first sunrise breaking at various locations in Japan. In addition, a couple of days ago, we made preparations to display several Kagami Mochi at various locations inside our home. Kagami Mochi is a traditional New Year decoration which is supposed to ward off fires from the house for the following years. It was nice to look at the display of Kagami Mochi while watching Hatsuhinode on television. When I greeted hubby in the morning, he just did a ‘V’ sign lying down in bed itself and again fell sleep soon afterwards. I guess he was too tired from playing golf the entire day the previous day. We had a late lunch of noodles and rice at home. Then we watched some movies on television. Furthermore, challenged by his younger niece the previous day, hubby tried to solve the Rubik’s cube. After about an hour or so he could finally succeed. It was the first time ever that he succeeded and he himself was very amazed. Afterwards we went out and had dinner at a nearby restaurant. While returning home, we bought some Daifuku sweets from a convenience store and had them at home. Daifuku is a sweet made of Mochi, and Mochi related items are very popular must-eat items during the New Year. The first day of the year passed just relaxing and being lazy at home.
Hatsuhinode I saw in a television program

Mount Fuji and the first sunrise of the year I saw in the same television program

Hubby greeted me with a ‘V’ sign on the first morning of the year. Soon afterwards he fell asleep again.

One of the Kagami Mochi displayed inside our Ichinomiya home

Hubby having his first lunch of the year at home

Hubby trying to solve the Rubik’s cube (1) and (2), and displaying various sides of the cube after succeeding (3) and (4)

Hubby having dinner at a restaurant

Hubby having Daifuku sweets

2nd January 2016
On 2nd January, father-in-law, his wife, and hubby again went to play golf at Springfield Golf Club in Tajimi City. They left at about 6 am, and I stayed at home and relaxed all day. In the afternoon, hubby’s sister and her two daughters again visited our home. In fact sister-in-law came to drop off her daughters who stayed overnight with us. It is always nice to chat with them. Hubby returned home after playing golf at about 4.30 pm. Then we all had snacks and tea, and played some card games. Soon afterwards sister-in-law left and both the nieces started doing their school related homework. Hubby and I were really amazed to see them do their homework earnestly without anyone telling them to do so. Later in the evening, father-in-law, his wife, nieces, hubby, and I had dinner at a Sushi restaurant located near our home. After dinner, we all played bowling for about two hours at a bowling alley located near the restaurant. I played bowling after almost 2 decades and it was really so much fun. Additionally, hubby and father-in-law practiced baseball batting at a batting center located inside the bowling alley building itself. Finally at about 9.30 pm, we returned home from such a nice family outing. Afterwards both the nieces took bath and soaked in the bathtub for quite some time. They looked very relaxed and fell asleep by 10.30 pm.
Hubby, his sister, and nieces having snacks and tea at our home

Playing some card game

Nieces doing their homework

Having dinner at a Sushi restaurant

Older niece, father-in-law, and his wife having dinner

Hubby and younger niece having dinner

Younger niece bowling

Hubby bowling and older niece just finished her turn bowling

Father-in-law bowling

Hubby took several photos of me bowling

Hubby (left) and father-in-law (right) practicing baseball batting at a batting center located inside the bowling alley building

Younger niece and hubby look tired after returning home

3rd January 2016
After getting up from sleep the next morning, both the nieces immediately started playing with their uncle. The girls eagerly waited for breakfast but I was unable to make any as we did not have fresh vegetables and meat at home. This is because, during the first few days of the New Year holidays most of the supermarkets are closed in Japan. So we had breakfast at a nearby restaurant. Afterwards, we went to a shopping mall named Kisogawa Aeon Mall where we bought a few gifts for the nieces and had lunch at a food court located inside the mall. After lunch, the nieces were eager to go to a shop named Popondetta located inside the mall itself. The shop has a wonderful railroad model diorama and the nieces played with the diorama for quite some time. We returned home at about 5 pm and soon afterwards sister-in-law came to pick up her daughters. It is always a pleasure to have the nieces stay at our home.
Immediately after getting up from sleep in the morning, the nieces started playing with their uncle

Both the nieces playing with their uncle

Nieces having breakfast at a restaurant

Hubby and a railroad model diorama at Popondetta shop inside Kisogawa Aeon Mall

Nieces playing with the railroad model diorama

Happy girl

Nieces loved playing with the railroad diorama

4th January 2016
On the morning of 4th January, hubby and I visited my late mother-in-law’s grave located near our home, and offered our prayers. Hubby cleaned the gravestone with water, offered flowers, and lit some candles and incense sticks. He also lit many mini-candles at an altar in front of many stone statues of Jizo Bosatsu located inside the graveyard. In the afternoon, we visited a shrine named Masumida Jinja located in Ichinomiya City itself. It was our first trip to a shrine this year, and it is a sort of annual ritual and tradition for us. Such a tradition of visiting a shrine or a temple during the New Year is known as Hatsumode. Hatsumode festivities are held at practically every shrine and temple across the country. I will write in details about our visit to Masumida Jinja Shrine in the next post. After returning home, I made Ozoni soup for dinner. Ozoni is a popular traditional New Year’s dish prepared with Mochi and other ingredients that differ based on various regions of Japan. It is said that Ozoni has its roots in Samurai society cuisine. I made Ozoni soup with Dashi stock, soy sauce, Mochi, and spinach. The soup topped with dried bonito flakes tasted simple and delicious. We enjoyed the hot Ozoni soup while watching some television program.
Hubby offering flowers at his late mother’s grave

Hubby lighting candles at the grave

Lit candles

Mother-in-law’s gravestone cleaned with water and arranged with flowers

Hubby arranging mini-candles at an altar in front of many stone statues of Jizo Bosatsu located inside the graveyard

Hubby lighting the mini-candles at the altar

Hubby very peaceful after lighting the mini-candles

Lit candles at the altar in front of the stone statues of Jizo Bosatsu

I am standing in front of the gate of Masumida Jinja Shrine

Hubby having Ozoni soup for dinner

5th January 2016
On 5th January, hubby and I left our home in Ichinomiya at about 12 noon, took a train from Ichinomiya Railway Station to Centrair Airport, from where we took a flight back to Akita. We reached Akita Airport at about 4 pm in the evening. Immediately after getting down from the air plane, we realized that we were back to cold harsh winter of Akita. It was too windy and snowing heavily that time. In fact, during the car ride from the airport to our home in Yurihonjo City, it snowed the entire way and there was snow all around us.
Hubby having some snacks inside a waiting area at a platform of Ichinomiya Railway Station

Waiting to board this air plane at Centrair Airport

Too cold and windy at Akita Airport

Snow in front of Akita Airport building

Our car and snow in front of the airport building

Snowing heavily and snow everywhere on our way back to Yurihonjo home

This year hubby and I had a relaxed fun filled New Year holidays with our relatives. In the next post I will write about our visit to Masumida Jinja Shrine.

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