by
on January 6, 2017 on 1/6/17

Happy New Year from Japan!

あけましておめでとう!

Happy New Year!

I can’t believe it’s already 2017 and here I have been in Japan for over 125 days!! It feels like I was making my departure video yesterday! To celebrate the new year I went to Kyoto, Japan and visited some historical Japanese sites including the Kiyomizu-dera temple from the Heian Period, completed in 778. Unfortunately, they were doing some restoration and so there was a bit of construction in the way of my photos but the feeling and memories I received were still wonderful! Also, I learned so many things about Japanese New Year’s traditions! For example:

Creating and sending new years postcards are a very common tradition here! You can buy all kinds of stationary to create these postcards called nengajou (年賀状)are often sent to friends and family members.

Another tradition is to visit a temple or shrine. My friends took me to Kyoto because of this, as Kyoto has many beautiful temples to see!

Finally, I have been told it is a tradition to ring a bell at certain temples to represent a good new year, however, because of the crowds, we did not visit a temple with these bells. Believe it or not, it is very difficult to reach certain temples. Most are built uphill and require a lot of climbing, or walking where cars and taxis cannot go.

So, for my New Year’s celebration, we traveled to the Kiyomizu-dera temple, ate mochi, drank sake, and explored the historical city of Kyoto.

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I wish everyone a wonderful 2017, wherever you are in the world. I know I have been missing my home and family, but I remember that this is my once in a lifetime opportunity. I got to celebrate the new year in Japan, at a famous and historic temple. I know I won’t be able to do this again. I am blessed to have these photos and memories to look back on. I hope other international students are feeling the same. I know others must also feel homesick. Being away from home for an entire year is hard! I wish everyone around the world a wonderful and magical Happy New Year wherever you are. Remember this time, because by 2018 you may not be exploring and learning in a new country anymore.

A famous Japanese saying is 一期一会(ichigoichie) and it roughly translates to “once in this lifetime”. This phrase is often used in Japanese tea ceremony, for we will only experience each moment exactly a certain way, only one time in our lives. I love this phrase, and I think it’s a good way to describe one’s studying abroad!

Until next time!