From My Journey to Yours
I recently published my first article in the North American Post. My articles will be featured in the paper at the beginning of each month. In case some of you missed it, you can read it here. Thank you for your interest in reading what I have to say. Here’s wishing you a good start for 2016!
My childhood memories of year-end traditions while growing up in Kyushu, Japan always flood my mind this time of the year.
I went through culture shock when I arrived in America at the age of eleven and saw how differently people in America celebrated the coming of the New Year. Lively New Year’s Eve parties, waking up late on January first and watching football games on television while munching on various party foods was so foreign to me.
The older I get, the more I cherish my childhood memories and the tradition of
“starting new with a fresh mindset.” It’s such a good feeling to get enough sleep and rise early on January first, refreshed to face the coming year.
These are my fond memories of New Years growing up in Kokura.
Starting on the first of December, Mother would say, “Keiko, we are going through each room in our house and cleaning every nook and corner. Here’s a check-list; be a good girl and do your part.” Without argument, I helped Mother clean all the shoji-screens, de-clutter the drawers in every room and scrub marks off the walls.
Mother’s To Do list for me read like this:
- Do you owe anybody money? Pay it back.
- Did you say mean words to any of your friends? Apologize.
- Did you mean to do a kind act for someone but not get around to it? If so, do it now.
- Do you have any unfinished homework or projects? Complete them.
- Did you think about what you will do in the coming year to become a better person? Write it down.
After I finished my to-do list, it was time to relax and enjoy the coming of the New Year on the evening of December 31. Mother and I sat in our clean house and enjoyed eating a traditional bowl of buckwheat noodles topped with grated mountain potatoes. As the slippery noodles went down our throats, we listened to the faraway sounds of the temple bells as they rang out the exact number of the year we were about to enter.
Mother said, “Keiko, soba noodles are the last to enter your stomach this year. This is cleansing. You will start out the new year with a clean body and a clear mind.”
I loved getting up early on New Year’s Day. Mother dressed me in a colorful kimono and we visited the temple and prayed for a good year so as to have the fortune to maintain good relationships, health and wealth. After that, we went home, ready to have fun playing games with the neighborhood children and eating traditional New Year’s food which Mother prepared.
Japanese New Years is called Oshogatsu and lasts for three days (Jan 1st – 3rd).
I take this tradition seriously and try my best to follow through as much as I can with the list Mother made for me so many years ago.
Why not try to follow this list for yourself? I guarantee that it will make you feel so much better. Out with the old and in with the new!