A lot of events have taken place before school started up on Jan. 8, and after Christmas, or should I say one BIG event, NEW YEAR! The Japanese just don’t celebrate Christmas but on the contrary they DO celebrate the coming of the New Year and in my opinion it tops America’s celebration by far. The Japanese believe in having a clean house for the New Year, so they clean like crazy. They also believe you should “rest” your kitchens the first three days of the New Year, for this they prepare “Bento Boxes.” If you don’t know what a bento box is, it is the Japanese name for their lunch boxes, but what they used for the New Year were four wooden boxes that stack together. They fill them with a ton of food such as shrimp, mochi, meat rolls, eggs, tiny fish eggs and a lot more. I was very lucky and was able to help make them. The boxes lasted us two maybe all three days. A lot of food had special meanings. For example, the shrimp: Curved back represented that you would have a long life. Another example was the fish eggs. My host mom told me that people would eat them for fertility. It was fascinating.
My host family, their neighbors and I also made Mochi, which is a HUGE job, but is a TON of fun when you make it with friends and family. Mochi is rice that is like melted together and you can put fillings inside. Other people would probably explain it a lot better, but it was fun and I enjoyed getting to know everyone.
On the 31st we went to a shrine and a temple. It was fun. We ate that night from 8 p.m. until midnight. In the morning we all got dressed up in Kimonos and the neighbors took photos. I really have enjoyed the holidays, but I love and miss the American Christmas.