Happy new year to all of you, I wish you a lot of happiness for ２０１７ and a nice time in Fukuoka and Japan. I could experience New Year in Fukuoka and it was the first time for me in Japan!
First of all I had a Bonenkai (忘年会) with my working colleagues. Bonenkai is a strong tradition where you drink and eat with your colleagues or friends to celebrate the end of the year. Bonenkai can be done before or after Christmas depending on the availabilities of the staff. Bonenkai is supposed to be a drinking party who help forgetting the bad moments of the year and actually literally means “meeting to forget the year”. Usually Japanese people eat at the restaurant, but this time we cooked by ourselves. We made a hotpot in two steps, first with tofu, beef and vegetable then we added some rice and noodles. We also had a lot of Shōshū (strong sake) and beers, it seems to me that it is part of the tradition to drink a lot, and it helps to forget actually.
New Year in Japanese is Shōgatsu (正月). Most of Japanese people are staying with their family before going to a shrine for midnight. So on the 31st evening the streets of FUKUOKA were very quiet. Younger people who like to go out will definitely do a “countdown party”. As for me, I went to Daymio in a British pub with my friends to have some beers until midnight and we also had a shot of tequila after the countdown.
After that we tried to do our Hatsumode (初詣), this is the name for your first shrine visit of the year. It is a very strong tradition so we went to Kushida shrine (櫛田神社) around half past midnight but the place was so busy! You needed to wait about 2 hours to ring the bell and prey at the temple. It was a bit too cold for me to wait but hopefully I could try the sake. So we continued to party until the early morning before going back to the shrine. At this time it was still a little bit of people there but we did it! Only had to wait five minutes this time. I also tried my luck by getting an Omikuji, but I only had a small chance (小吉).
On New Year’s Day, I went to my Fiancée house to have Osechi (御節料理 ). It is the Japanese traditional dish that you eat on this special day. This dish has to be colorful and each preparation has a meaning. For example, Prawns represent a bent old person and wish a long life. Kazunoko (数の子), herring eggs, wish lots of kids. You have many kind of food, it is well presented and it’s very tasty. Actually we also had some sushi, maybe just a family tradition but it was very tasty.
Few days later I also went to Dazaifu (太宰府) who is the main shrine of the region. On the 4th of January, it was still very busy. The scenery is very beautiful, you also have a very old temple nearby that is over 700 years old named Komyozenji (光明禅寺).