January 28, 2015

The New Years Back in Tokyo

I know I am pushing the limit by still posting new years related photos.

But I promise these are my very last. They were all taken after coming back to Tokyo and slipping back into reality. Cold windy days. So to brighten up my days, I did what any normal person would do and stuffed myself with delicious food and snacks! Oh and flowers!

Here are some photos:

The whiff of smoke is said to heal the places is touches.

regional omiyage // hozomon // omikuji drawers // strawberry daifuku
My omikuji...so crazy but I got dai-kichi (大吉) again! (three in a row!)
The ingredients for Nanakusa-gayu (七草粥), traditionally eaten on January 7th.

chinatown sweets are the prettiest // plump white flowers with a shade of pink
Nothing like gorgeous weekend flowers and snowflake nails to start of this year right! x

January 26, 2015

The Chi-no-wa at Konno Hachimangu Shrine

You don't know how happy I was when I saw that Ru had written about Konno Hachimangu (金王八幡宮) in her recent post. It reminded me that I had a few photos of the same shrine from the end of the year so I thought I'd just let you go to her post to learn about this lovely shrine. You know I love reading about something a hundred times more than writing about it. (It has a surprising connection to mathematics, which I did not know!)

Because it was the end of the year, they had the Chi-no-wa (茅の輪) set up. It is a large ring, used as part of the purification ritual called Oh-harai (大祓い) to get rid of all the bad luck in the past year.

It was my first time seeing an actual chi-no-wa so I had to read the instructions. You start by walking through the ring, then go around the left and walk through again, then go around to the right and walk through for the final time. (You can see the instructions in the photo below.)

I think it had instant results because I picked an omikuji (おみくじ) and I got dai-kichi (大吉), the best one! Hurrah!

Here are some photos (and read about the shrine here):

January 23, 2015

The Random Snapshots from Okinawa

The wind in Tokyo is insane and I am cold to my bones. But the countdown to spring has already begun so I am staying optimistic that this cold dry season will pass soon enough.

Until then here are a few more photos of Okinawa:

Blue skies on my way to the supermarket.
Missing those warm white-tshirt-no-socks kind of weather.
Isn't this the loveliest entrance ever?
So many bright colored flowers and buildings here.
Did you know karate originated in Okinawa? (I had no idea!)
Driving along the sea on our drive up to Naijin (今帰仁).
Fresh daikon outside the soba shop we went to for lunch.
Our uncle's home is wonderfully in the middle of nowhere.
They had tons of siikwasaa (シークァーサー) trees. Yum.
Okinawa has mountains, too.
Okinawa habu (a venomous pit viper) is my worst nightmare. Argh.
Our family couldn't fit into one car so here we are driving in two separate cars.
It felt a little odd seeing palm trees surrounding the shrine torii.
There was an omikuji vending machine!
Naha city is a whole lot of white.
Last sunset in Okinawa. It was the best week ever and I can't wait to go back!
You know you're back in Tokyo when a kid yells "SAMUI!" the minute we step off the plane.

January 20, 2015

The Year End Family Get Together in Okinawa

I've mentioned before that our family rarely does anything tourist-y in Okinawa. 

It is one of the top vacation spots for domestic travel in Japan. And I'm quite curious to explore this motherland of mine (I was born here). But I can count on one hand the number of times we've actually eaten out, much less hit the tourist attractions.

The reason for this is: family get-togethers.

We have a lot of these. Especially when we visit during the holidays. Okinawa is said to have a very strong sense of family and community, which means everyone comes to these gatherings. It can get very lively and last late into the night.

This time it was just my grandmother's younger sister's family and us (because there just wasn't enough space to invite my grandmother's other two sister's families). We spent the entire day getting ready for the get-together, cleaning the house and cooking, cooking and cooking some more. Apparently, there really is no such thing as too much food on occasions like this. Or at least that's what my grandma says.

We rarely get to spend time with our Okinawan-side of the family so it was really nice to have the time to catch up with all my relatives, especially with a feast like this! Oh, what a night!

What are your family get-togethers like?

Here are some photos:

My brother good and ready to eat!
Our second cousins teaching us a new pose...still have no idea what it was.
A lot of my favorite dishes...mmmh!
So hard to choose where to start with this much food!
Chimaki is delicious and filling, made from things like rice, beans, and meat.
It's finally my turn to hand out otoshidama (お年玉) now :D
My great aunt, grandma, and baby sister taking a break from eating to chat!
For once in my life, I was too busy eating and chatting to take photos...and you can see why! x