December

I apologize for significant lack of posts. I have the Blogger app on my iPhone and still can't seem to get it together. Maybe I feel more comfortable on my laptop? But then all the photos I take are on my iPhone... Anyhow, my laptop is now 7 years old and is still managing to provide whatever I need to use it for which is mostly for browsing the web lol. As soon as I'm able to I'm thinking of getting the Macbook Pro :)So..fall is almost finished. My favorite season but since the weather has been so erratic I was only able to have a few fall-like days in terms of outfits/clothes. This may also be because compared to the general populous of NYC I'm relatively underdressed when it comes to cooler temperatures. Winters in Japan were pretty cold. Mostly because of the humidity. And in Upstate NY there was the lake effect which makes things almost twice as cold. Like I've mentioned before I'm not as fond of humid and hot which makes me, born in Hawaii and all, more resilient to the cold. I just always figure it'll be colder so why dress so warm when it's still in the 30s? People will look like the boy from 'Christmas Story' by the time the temps dip below zero at the rate they're dressing. Now it's the holiday season. The tree at Rockefellar Center was lit up last week and stores and streets are decorated for the Christmas season. Since I haven't been in NYC during this time of year before I find it so pretty to see. But Japan made me a little Grinch-like because it's such an event there and Christmas seemed very artificial and materialistic (which it can be everywhere) but there wasn't any cozy, loving warmth like the holidays in the States. In high school I would start writing Xmas cards as soon as Thanksgiving finish and be so eager to send them out. I would decorate and get so excited for Christmas! I'm trying to change my mentality and get into the Christmas spirit (at least in terms of decorating, buying gifts etc...) but I guess I'm lazy. I want to keep baking cookies like I did at Thanksgiving but without a full time job yet I'm limited on a budget to buy gifts. Guess it's a good thing I have a small family lol! People keep asking me what my plans are for Christmas but I have no clue. I didn't know what I was doing for Thanksgiving till the day of. My family is far away so maybe it doesn't seem as important for me. I'll likely make fun plans with friends and enjoy that they're off work or something lol. I made Xmas dinner in Japan which was a bit of work and not sure I'll do that but I'm looking forward to making egg nog which I made for the first time ever two years ago. Yummm! Holiday parties will be fun to attend too.Other than this rambling I'm still in the process of looking for a job. Have a part-time job in retail and I volunteer at a school which has been incredibly meaningful and fun. I'm really enjoying my life here in NYC and can't believe that it's been almost three months since I moved here. Where'd the time go?!!Okay, that's all for now. Will post pictures from my iPhone asap.Hope you're all well!

MMXI

Happy New Year or 'Akemashite omedetou'!! Its' hard to believe it's already 2011!

Japan was one of the first few places for New Years to occur. Hawaii is one of the last so it's a very big difference between both. I got to wish my mother a happy new year via Skype when it became New Years in Hawaii:)

Culturally speaking New Years is a much bigger deal than Christmas. Many stores and businesses are closed for a few days allowing for the many Japanese to travel to their hometowns and spend time with family.

New Years is a time of lots of food which is probably the most exciting part. To bring in the New Year it is tradition to eat 'toshikoshi soba' or moving into the new year /year end noodles. Soba are buckwheat noodels and is thought to symbolize longevity because the noodles are long. Families prepare in advance for the food they'll eat on New Years day with 'osechi ryouri'. This food is placed in stackable lacquered boxes. Each dish has a symbolic meaning such as health, longevity and good harvest for the year. It is thought that this tradition came about because stores were closed for the new years holiday and famlies needed to make lots of food.

Below is a picture of typical 'osechi ryouri'.




Another dish that's prepared is 'ozoni' which is either miso soup or a clear broth with some vegetables and 'mochi' or rice cake. If it is prepared with miso then it is either white or red miso and some areas of Japan includes azuki beans.

Japanese people visit shrines or temples for their 'hatsumode' or first shrine visit within the first couples days of the new year, sometimes even right after the new year has begun as shrines ring bells to ring in the new year and many food stalls are set up a long the road to the shrine.

Besides, these festivities many people relax at home with their families, write new years cards,watch special tv shows and wish those they know a happy new year.

Recent temperatures here in Kobe have been a little bitter. Due to the humidity the air feels much colder than the actual temperature. Therefore while New Years is a time of celebration there are little reasons to want to step out into the cold besides these traditional festivities.

Just wanted to wish you all a wonderful New Year. May this year be filled with health and happiness for you all.

Christmas Eve

Happy Holidays! It's almost Christmas for those of you that celebrate.

Christmas Eve is a much bigger deal here in Japan than Christmas Day. Couples and families exchange gifts, eat cake (usually strawberry shortcake) and fried chicken. I'm really not sure how some of these celebrations came about but probably not from religion since only about two percent of the population is Christian. This year Christmas falls on a weekend but otherwise no one would have the day off.

Culturally, New Year's is when families get together, people go back to their hometowns and large meals are prepared. So in a sense Christmas has become an event based on outside influences and New Year's is celebrated more like how Christmas would be spent in Western countries. I don't have any pictures to share but each year Kobe puts up lighting for a week and half or so for everyone to look at. It started the year of the Great Hanshin Earthquake. I managed to see it before it was lit which is kind of funny. Some areas of the city up with Christmas lights. Everyone has been out shopping and with the drop in temperature yesterday it feels much more like winter.

Anyhow, just wanted to drop in and wish you a very Merry Christmas and Happy New Year! I hope to write again before the new year but I can't promise anything. Be safe and have fun. Best wishes into the new year:)