New Year in Japan

Aloha folks! Oda here, reporting from a land far far away. After a few days of rain and even some snow, the weather has cleared and I can leave the protective safety of the bunker.

For the first leg of my 6 month stay in Japan, my destination was Niigata.

Niigata, Japan is a city located on the Japan seaside to the north of Tokyo. An agricultural powerhouse, this region is known for pure water, and excellent growing conditions for rice and produce.

I was fortunate enough to sample these during my time there, enjoying the hospitality of the folks I was homestaying with. The rice and the miso (soybean paste) was delicious! One of the highlights of the homestay was the tasty sukiyaki stew with Takayama wagyu beef. This region is known for having even tastier meat than Kobe beef!

There wasn’t too much of the seaside to see in the middle of winter, but I did get to go down to the middle of Niigata city and check out the New Year’s festival at the Hakusan Shrine. In Japanese culture New Years is held during the solar calendar, with activities taking place on Dec. 31st and January 1st.

Amatsu’s Kapha filled field map is based on the layout of a traditional Japanese shinto shrine. At a shinto shrine, you can purchase all sorts of charms and objects to bring you good luck in the new year. Purchase a fortune and if you don’t like it, tie it to the branch of a nearby tree!

The place has the air of a summertime festival. The specialty of Niigata is “Popoyaki” with “po-po” being the sound of steam puffing away as the pancake-like treat cooks.

Except for the cold, Niigata was the perfect place to spend a first New Year’s in Japan.

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