Skip to main content

Sea of Tea Plantations: Ringing in the New Year in 2014
I have rang in the new year in Japan in many different settings.  The first new year celebration was in the snowy coastlands of Hokkaido in a cozy cottage in a warm dining room next to a kotatsu ( a low table that warms your feet) snowy hot natural hot spas with huge snow clad pines surrounding it.   I rang in 2014 in a green tea plantation in Shizuoka, the tea capital of Japan and one of the most premium tea regions in the world.  Unlike my Hokkaido experience, it doesn’t snow in Shizuoka instead the view is replaced with majestic views of Mount Fujii and the beautiful coastline.      

I think it’s worth noting that in order to really experience Japan you need to experience a new year celebration in the countryside.    Sure, Tokyo has always been the go-to destination for new year celebration, but this is a strictly “Tokyo” experience, and I mean that.  You could experience the same wild excitement in any major city in the world.    New Year celebration in Japan is about being with “family!”   It’s not about shaking your ass in a night club and kissing some random stranger after countdown.   

Fields of green tea lined neatly along rows of rolling hills dot the Numazu city landscape.   That’s what it looked like from the BMW’s window as my girl steered her car seemlessly through a labyrinth  of green tea plantations.   Up a hill and down a hill; passed by  several tea factories along the way.  The weather was beautiful.    It was nice being back up this way again, but this time with a new squeeze if you know what I mean.  I was going to meet her parents for the first time and spend a wonderful New Years with all of them.  

You simply must take in the views high atop the Numaza Service area too, which is located five minutes down hill from her parent’s house just off the brand new super modern Shin-Tomei Expressway.   The sea and the Shizuoka peninsula all blend in so well with the town just below where we were positioned.   A five minute walk from her parent’s house there is the family grave plot dating as far back as Yayoi Period.    Very old family family lineage she came through, which was impressive for me.   And just a few yards from the family plot was the very powerful and wealthy Tsuruga Bank family plot which was gorgeously arranged with huge stone slabs.     Architecturally it was beautiful.  

I was particularly impressed with the stretch of Shinkansen railway next to the cemetery.   Many of the residence received enormous payouts for the construction of it.  

After taking our walk we returned home for a feast of kings!   After taking our walk we returned home for a feast of kings!   This time of year Japanese housewives can take a break for four days and just order food and relax with the family.  In the picture you can see crabs and all sorts of seasonal pickled dishes.  

We ate and played together and had a wonderful time getting to know each other.  Me and dad drank lots of beer and sake together.  It was wonderful.  Then we all went to sleep until 11pm then headed over to the main shrine to offer up prayers and ring this huge bell.

At around a quarter to 12 we headed out towards the temple.   Walking in the pitch black starry night sky, I was pleasantly reminded of how wonderful it is to be in the countryside again.  I used to live in King’s County in Central California, so it was nice seeing stars again.   Five minutes to midnight the temple monk ring this huge bell and then everybody gets their turn to ring the bell once.   It is one of the most beautiful

It is a tradition in Japan  to drink a hot sweet  non-alcoholic beverage called amazake.  It’s an acquired taste so if you don’t mind something with a pulpy velvety consistency then you won’t mind drinking it.  It is also served 50/50 with Japanese sake if you prefer something with a kick.  

New Years in Japan  is about family, eating good food, and prayer time.   It is this continuity in Japanese tradition that lured me to this country.    I loved it.    Japan has 8 million Gods!  

Naorai-no-sake. Sake once offered to gods is then drunk by believers. It is believed that by sharing foods and drinks with god, people can receive gods' power. BTW, Happy New Year to you, Tony. Let's have nice sake together also this year.

Otoshidama is a gift money for children up to the age of around 15.   Well, I have always been a kid, so Japanese feel compelled to give me pocket money.  I got $50.00!   I was so happy.  My trip, yet again, was another epic journey into the old Japan and with more stories to come in 2014

The tea I had and recommend is called sencha from Nogazaki-en   The tea I had and recommend is called sencha from Nogazaki-en.   For further reading on more of my tea posts click here, here, and here. . 

Popular posts from this blog

Shin-Okubo: Little Korea

So I finally got around to going up there to Shin-Okubo,  the land of Seoul via the Yamanote Line.  Been putting this trip off for years for personal reasons;  I am not a fan of Hanlleyu.      I knew why I came up this way, and for none other reason than the food, and maybe to bask in the nausea of Korean romanticist who steal Japanese Jukujo's souls.    But honestly, I like spicy food and stews and pickled vegetables that challenge my taste buds.    I also love the little funky cafes that line the main thoroughfares and alley ways, each with their own little eclectic menus and interior decor.     This place is Korea.  

Shin-Okuba represents more than just a place to relish in Korean culinary delights and K-pop culture, but a place where Koreans can express themselves through their culture.    You can feel the local vibe in the air as you're walking down narrow walkways and footpaths.    I have personally been to mainland Korea six times, so a lot of the nostalgia was there …

August: The Return of Souls

August is peak summer season in Japan.  We can look forward to some of the most spectacular fireworks displays and festivals in the world, especially  in places like Tohoku and Kanto regions.  August is also  the most contentious month of the year in Japan; with the end of the war and war-related guilt.    Then there's the great exodus back home for millions of Japanese.   Obon season is what it's called in Japan, and it's  where families return to their hometowns to remember their ancestors and to spend time with loved ones.  Gravestones are visited, cleaned, and washed; rice or alcohol is often placed on  miniature altars next to a  headstone.  This is a way for Japanese to reconnect with their roots; a way for them to stay grounded and founded in the ways of tradition and cultural protocol.   

For the foreign tourist, some places will be overcrowded and expensive to reach; for Japanese, this is normal and can't be helped.   Wherever you go there will be lines and h…

For the Glory of Sake

For the Glory of Sake

Couldn't help but notice the snarky remark the Japanese guy made sitting next to me on my left.  " like Japanese sake.   This is a Japanese drink.  I like I like" he chided in Japanese English.  He attempted to rest his hand on my balls, but I slapped it away.  "No shit, then why are you drinking two fingers Jack-n-Coke" I retorted.   
I was requested to come and have a sit and drink lesson by the owner of the bar, who in turn introduced me to this drunk S.O.B.  And for a nominal fee I had to grit and bear the sickness of sitting next to a stinky salary man with a Black penis fetish for several hours while appearing like I was having the time of my life.  I didn't want to ruin it for my Jukujo matron and patron, so I behaved.  
I haven't been to a Japanese shrine in a while, but whenever I go I always pray and thank the Gods for the Japanese Jukujo.  I thank them for delivering me from the scourge of silly little she-men w…