Chinese New Year in Japan
Hello again to all my friends back in the states! Things are rolling along here rather well. I finally got moved into my apartment here on base, got my phone and cable internet hooked up, and had my first Japanese Earth quake. It wasn’t too bad, but it lasted a good long while, plus I’m up on the 8th floor of my tower and the height just makes it last longer. I didn’t freak out – I’m a Californian. I can handle earth quakes. It’s those pesky hurricanes I’m not so good with.
Getting myself moved into my apartment all by myself sure took up a lot of my time. I did go to the Chinese New Year (bring on the dog!) in one of the world’s largest China Towns. I took a tour bus from the base so that I wouldn’t get lost. The trip was a bust because we got there so late. The parade had already started and there were so many people!! I did see a couple dragon heads from the famous dragon dancers, but mostly all I saw were the tops of Japanese heads. Yes, I have to duck under a lot of awnings here as I walk around in town. Even the hanging lamp in the dining room here has threatened the top of my head more than once. Just wait ’til I get my tools, that’ll be the end of that lamps death threats! *evil laugh*
So many people!!
Finally, a dragon!
Since I wasn’t comfortable in the crowd and I was stuck here for 5 hours, I decided to go to one of the Shinto Shrines. I stood in line for an eternity and bought some inscence to burn at each of the 5 alters. I stayed around the outskirts of the shrine. It was a madhouse inside and out, but inside was much worse. The temple for the shrine was very pretty, but I’m not too sure which one I went in to see. There are a lot of shrines in this China Town and I was pretty lost by the time I got to it. But it was very pretty all the same. This dragon was one of many decorations outside the shrine:
By the time I headed back out from the shrine, it was getting dark, but someone offered to take a picture for me. So far, I’ve noticed most nice people who offer to take pictures, don’t hold the camera still (see the first picture in this blog). I’ve got a lot of blurry pictures, but I actually brought a nice camera and quality film with me. I may need to sacrafice the quality of the film for speed in the future. Ahh well, such is life. And I’ll have lots more opportunities to get some pictures.
Now on my previous excursion, I went to see the Daibutsu, or “The Great Buddha.” My photo there is on my profile. I’ve got more photos from my trip on a digital memory card, but I can’t find the card for the life of me, so those pictures will have to be shown later. I got lucky and brought my 35mm and my digital, so I at least have the one picture. Buddhism is the other major religion here in Japan (the Shinto religion like the shirine in China Town is the 1st). And no, Casey, I did not rub the big Buddha’s belly. I couldn’t have reached it. They have a prayer alter in front of his tummy for people to pray for luck. I’m standing in front of a sacrificial alter in the picture, taller than the prayer alter. I did, however, wash my hands in their purification water, and then touch my lips. You’re supposed to cleanse your hands and mouth before praying to Buddha. It was really neat to get in and experience the culture. I try to blend in, but of course, I can’t. It’s very obvious that I don’t belong here when I’m considered quite tall.
Just how much taller than the Japanese am I? Here’s a nice comparison:
Sorry, again, for the blurry picture. I had way too much fun in the Kimono shop last week. I didn’t buy anything because I can’t even begin to afford one just yet, but looking was free. There is a better picture of me in this Kimono under my profile pictures. I’ve been trying to find a used kimono shop, but I’m having trouble finding it, I think I got close once, but I was too tired to keep hunting. I did go into this kimono shop because the lady out front walked me in. I tried to tell them I couldn’t shop because my husband wasn’t with me, but they insisted on me trying stuff on. We played dress up for a while and they took pictures of me to put on their display out front. That’s my idea of a good time! Of course, the one I want was a formal kimono. Go figure, I’d want the expensive one. 🙂 It was covered in “sakura” or cherry blossoms. This picture is the expensive one which they showed me first, then I wandered over to the fancy stuff. The sales lady said I won’t find anything long enough for me in a used store. They tailor their kimonos to the person, and they are all hand made to begin with. And I learned that short sleeves are for married women and long are for single. I still kind of want a long sleeve one just because they are so pretty. I started off looking at $700 ones (like above) and fell in love with the $3,000 one. Plus all the accessories I’m looking at spending a lot. They had a butterfly tie and the kimono was black silk with lavender cherry blossoms on it. 🙂 Very pretty, and free to look at and try on. Everyone in that shop spoke almost no English. 4 or 5 women would get together to try and find the right words to talk to me. One lady showed up that spoke broken sentences. Her son lives in London, so he’s teaching her. I’m standing with her in the picture. She gave me the owners business card so I can shop here again later. I didn’t feel bad about wasting thier time because they invited me in to begin with and I tried to tell them I couldn’t buy one right now. Several of the women in the store (including the customers) were fascinated with me, which was REALLY bizzare. They like the different shape of my face. So they were having just as much fun playing dress up as me, and they would have kept going, too, if I hadn’t picked up my jacket to show I was done. It was a lot of fun, and I drew a lot of attention to the shop, which is good business for them I’m sure. These were all real, hand made, unique kimonos. *sigh* I need a job so I can go back and buy one. I’m going to get a bamboo wall hanger for it too and use it to decorate my bedroom. 🙂