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Winter in the US

KAZUE.jpg

I had a great winter time here in the US.  Usually we don’t celebrate Christmas as big as the US does in Japan.  We tend to celebrate New Year’s Day bigger than Christmas.  We do decorate Christmas trees and light some places up.  But after Christmas day, we clean them up and start preparing for New Year’s Day.  One big difference between an American Christmas and a Japanese Christmas is that, in Japan, Christmas is largely marketed as a romantic holiday.

For New Year’s Day:

In 1873 the Japanese adopted the Gregorian calendar and considered New Years to be one of the most important festivals of the year. There are many customs, such as sending greeting cards (Nengajou) to people, and eating special food (It’s called OSECHI RYOURI) and Mochi. Making mochi is very popular. We eat a SOBA on New Year’s Eve.  All the Buddhist temples ring bells 108 times to symbolize the 108 human sins. There are also small gifts of money (It is called OTOSHIDAMA) to children.

Nengajou Osechi Ryouri

Otoshidama

Making Mochi

Mochi

Accustomed to the Japanese way, I was expecting a bigger celebration for New Year’s Day than Christmas here in US.  Then I found it!! It’s New York!!  I went to New York to join the countdown event at Times Square.  I couldn’t get near Times Square.  But I could countdown with many many people from all around the world.

I was there about 4hours before the countdown.

This picture is a view from just behind me.  I was far from Times Square, but there were so many people behind me.

I couldn’t see the real one, but I could see it on screen.  It was enough for me…

I think that the most important thing is whether I could feel that special atmosphere or not.   As a result, I can say “yes”.  I don’t think that the countdown at Times Square is typical American culture. It is already all over the country. It was great experience for me that I stood 4 hours without moving, shouting with joy for every several hours before the countdown, like “2 hours to go!”, and the BIG countdown for 2012!!  I believe that this year will be a great year for me and everybody!!

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