It’s already 2010 over here so for starters Happy New Year and あけましておめでとうございます！
During the first three days of the new year, many Japanese spend their time between friends and family touring round the many temples scattered around wishing for good luck during the new year and ‘purify’ their sins by banging a gong with a thick rope for 108 times (apparently each person commits 108 sins every year).
Other than that, it’s like most religious holidays, where families gather and eat and drink like there’s no tomorrow!
The Japanese also have a tradition of writing a single Kanji to express their feelings for the new year.
But before I go into that, most Japanese would agree if they were to sum up 2009 in one word it would be:
read (kibishii) which means strict, hard, tough and severe.
With the economic crisis battering the Japanese economy and leaving many Japanese and foreign workers jobless and eventually homeless, not forgetting an extremely strong yen (great for traveling abroad but not for anything else). The word ‘tough’ wouldn’t be enough.
As for 2010, Japan has opted an optimistic view for the coming year making the year’s Kanji
read (shin) which means ‘new’ , symbolizing the change that already happened in 2009 mainly the election of Yukio Hatoyama leader of the Democratic Party of Japan ousting the long reigning Liberal Democrats out of office, and the optimism of building a new economy and a new Japan of the future.
Another Kanji growing popular these days is:
read (yume) which means ‘dream’ as it is playing a part in the lead up into the upcoming World Cup in South Africa. Apparently they are aiming for a place in the semi final this time around.
Finally, my Kanji for 2010 is:
read (aka) which means ‘red’. Other than a sign of undying patriotism towards Bahrain, it is also a hope that I stay out of the red. Red is also the color of dawn and dusk, hopefully a beautiful peaceful end of a chapter and a beginning of a great new day.
But most importantly, we’re hopefully expecting our first born child somewhere around March and in Japanese, babies are called 赤ちゃん (aka-chan) which literally means ‘red kid’.
Recently, a very good friend of mine had her second art exhibition in Japan exploring her new found love of the colour red in Japan and I’m gonna finish off this post with one of the “私の赤” (watashi no aka) or ‘My Red’ series…