Friday, January 13, 2012

New Year in Japanese style

Happy New Year!
We celebrate New Year in Japanese style every year.  I've been doing it since I came to the US with my husband.  It became tradition to our family now.  We like the calmness of Japanese New Year.  I work in the kitchen practically all day on the New Year's Eve.  But I must do this.  It's like a renewal of my will to spend time and effort as much as needed to make something nice, to develop skills to make something that makes loved ones happy, to be creative, and so on.  
So it's a ritual that I have to go through every year.

Therefore, I couldn't leave my American husband and American daughter until the New Years day is over to visit my parents in Yokohama.  It's a kind of funny that I couldn't make it to have New Year day in Japan because I had to do Japanese New Year in East TN.
But I was able to catch the trail of Japanese New Year in Kyoto.

I wasn't expecting this, but those New Year arrangements are supposed to be displayed until 7th.  So I saw lots of beautiful arrangements.  My mother was surprised how sophisticated the arrangements in Kyoto were.  The style is different from Tokyo.

Kyoto is such a popular place and I almost feel ashamed to visit.  But I must admit that it's so beautiful.  Well, if you only saw the beautiful pictures of the traditional looking Kyoto and visit there, you will be surprised at how modern Kyoto is.  Less crowded than Tokyo, but still pretty crowded.  Some temples are too crowded to feel the tranquility, some are too busy with street vendors.  
But you can find the calmness somewhere.  A corner in a shrine, back street, temples that are far form the main part of the city, etc.

One of the biggest reason that I love visiting Kyoto is that everything is tasty there.  The restaurants in the station building, tiny noodle shop in the back street, vendors in a market, not to mention fancy traditional restaurants.
It is obvious that food are made with a great care.  It probably take long time and good ingredients to even make a broth for the base.  
It must be the culture and tradition in the old city.  I admire that so much.

My interest in Kyoto grew once I started to study Fiber Art.  I always loved Kimono fabric, but now I am interested in how they are made.  

I visited Shibori museum and Museum of Traditional Crafts.  I just love the craftsmanship that goes into the beautiful works.  The skill is unbelievable.  
But sadly, they are endangered.  Those products cost so much because of the intensive labor yet those traditional crafts are not part of modern westernized life.  So only handful of people can afford it.  It doesn't bring enough money to the craftsman to sustain their living.  Young people are not attracted to be one of them.
I've heard about that everywhere I went.  Even taxi driver was mentioning that.  It is sad but it is true. I wouldn't pay thousands of dollars for Kimono even it's beautiful because I don't need it.

Kyoto amazed me with its desire to create tasteful and beautiful things, and the skills and the amount of time that go behind the things they produce.  I always wished that I had born in the past to be a craftsman, but it's still going on there.  That makes me feel so happy.
Yet Kyoto left me feeling sad.  The tradition and skill is rapidly disappearing.
But I was inspired by it.  I will continue learn and incorporate the inspirations into my creation.

So visiting Kyoto was reassurance of my New Year hope.   I will try making this year meaningful.


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