So, it’s a new year! We celebrated in Japanese style.
No late night partying. Up not too early, not too late. Checked out at the hotel and hung around in the lobby for the mochi ceremony. I think many of the people staying there were overseas visitors, there very few people in the lobby for this- unlike the hotel we were in last time.
Mochi are made by pounding cooked glutinous rice until it is a paste. It is traditionally done in a stone bowl.
We have done this before, with a community group at the old house museum we visited last time.
The mallet used is made of stone as well, and is pretty heavy!
So the cooked rice is placed in the bowl, and mushed around a bit, then you start whacking it with the mallet. It’s hard work.
They looked for volunteers and picked some likely candidates. It became clear that most of the people in the lobby had never done it before. They did not whack the rice hard enough. Then G had a go. Like I said, we have prior experience!
I have a video, but my blogging app is not being helpful. I will try to add….
The rice paste tends to stick to the mallet, so water has to be added periodically, that’s what the guy in the corner is doing.
Then this is what we got – two types of mochi and some tea. One has red bean paste- it’s kind of sweet and works really well with the mochi. The other is some kind of nut/soy powder. Tastes peanutty.
Then we dragged our bags to the train station (all of them, haven’t had to do that yet) and took a train one stop to Osaka station. There we took the shuttle bus to our next hotel and left our bags there for the day. Yay for higher end hotels with shuttle buses!
And then it was off to Sumiyoshi Taisha for hatsumode, first shrine visit for the year. Sumiyoshi Taisha is apparently a very old shrine, bits of it are in a very old style of architecture, predating Chinese influence on japan.
We took a train, and then boarded a tram, along with many others.
Looking at the tram in front
At the shrine it is a festival atmosphere, so lots of food stalls and a few carnival games. And so many people.
We went over a very old wooden bridge
And then into the shrine grounds
This orange and white building is one of the old style buildings
I say style, because one of the things about Japanese shrines is the rebuilding of them, exactly as before, on a periodic schedule. So the building looks like the one that was built over 1000 years ago, but is probably not that old (I don’t actually know)
The grounds were full, people praying, buying fortunes or various lucky objects. We bought a New Years arrow (only sold at this time of year).
Then we stopped in a food tent and had some yakisoba and beer and a roasted prawn.
On the train ride back we stopped in Nanba, a significant shopping area. Most of the shops were closed, but a few had started sales early. We went past the Apple Store, there was a line of people camping out for the lucky bags. Stretched down one block and then started back on the other side of the street!
Back to the hotel and our warm hotel room! And then it snowed!
Happy new year!