Sunday 8 January 2012

Photo Series: New Year 2012

To continue the holiday mood a bit longer here are some pictures of our New Year here in Fukushima.

In December took a little trip out of town to the farmhouse where they make traditional papier-mache dolls (Takashiba Deko Yashiki). These are  little dragons for the Year of the Dragon.
On December 28th invited to watch people making 'mochi', sticky rice cakes for the NewYear.
The rice is soaked in water for 36 hours, then drained, and steamed in these cookers.

The cooked rice.
First, the rice is mixed and kneaded gently.

Then the fun begins. Two people beat the rice in rythm moving clockwise round the mortar.
More difficult than it looks.
And someone has the dangerous job of turning the rice from time to time.
At our host's insistence Reiko and I, very gingerly, have a go. (If you miss the rice and hit the mortar you can damage  the hammer and get splinters in the rice. Determined not to fail!)
Our New Year food to go with the ricecakes (bought in not home-made I'm afraid). If Christmas Dinner is the ultimate Sunday lunch, then this 'o-setchi' New Year food must be the ultimate bento box.
We drove out to the mountains on the 30th. There was a white-out on the expressway and the flatlands off Lake Inawashiro - scary. But we were rewarded the next day with sunshine and fresh powder. The silver birch look like they've been dusted with icing sugar - magical.
On December 31st we skiied at Nekoma  in Ura Bandai. Bowl shaped area with a variety of slopes.

Next day, New Year's Day, went higher up to Gran Deco ski resort. Great views, better (warmer) lifts, easier runs.

Then on our last day, 2nd January, we managed to walk the Five Ponds trail (Goshiki Numa).

The main lake, Rashomon, was frozen at the start of the walk but further on we could see the characteristic blue.

Someone else has been here ...

Back in Koriyama on the afternoon of the 2nd. People queueing up to pay their respects at the Hachiman Shrine.
My daughter's  fortune - suekichi 末吉, 'the last of the good fortune'. Good luck, but not that good.
 Ah well, just mediocre good fortune sounds okay to me after the trauma of last year!

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