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A little trip, Christmas and New Year

With the end of my language school time, my time at the tourist information office also ended. In Japan, you are only allowed to work under a student visa if you are still attending school. Accordingly, I was prohibited from continuing to work after I graduated.


I can hardly express in words how grateful I am for all the experiences I have had here. I am thankful for all the wonderful and warm-hearted people who have crossed my path here and from whom I have been able to learn. I am grateful for the beautiful experiences, the challenges, and the recognition I have received here. I am thankful to have been able to participate in events that are a rarity for many Japanese and to have experienced a cohesiveness that I would like to carry over into my ryokan. Thank you for the incredible seven months!

These experiences will undoubtedly remain in my heart and have left a lasting impression on me. Thank you for your trust in me and my abilities. I will try to stay in contact with you and share my journey.

 

For me, the question now was what to do with all the time I had freed up. In addition to my Japanese language lessons in Germany, I had always given German lessons on the platform Cafetalk. Now I revived this. I did it sporadically in December because I wanted to make some short trips, and in January, I went full throttle.

It was wonderful to meet students again who had studied under me when I was still in Germany, and it was great to meet new people in Japan and from all over the world who were interested in the German language.


The Sort-Trip


Right after I finished school, I went to the other side of the Chiba peninsula. To be more precise, to Moriya. A small fisher village situated on a beautiful beach. I found a small guesthouse here three or four months ago called "Ocha-no-ma," which means tea room. The Ocha-no-ma used to be where people received guests and drank tea with them—a small separate room that is comfortably furnished. The guesthouse is built in a traditional Japanese house and enchants from the moment you arrive.


I was greeted by a mini station with just one track and a gorgeous sandy beach. A red tori in the sea and magical cliffs that took my breath away! What a wonderful place!


In the evening, I still explored the area, climbed a mountain hidden behind a Buddhist temple, and enjoyed the peace in my tatami room. Then, faster than I could look, it was night, and I snuggled into my futon.

The next day I went for a little hike to the next town and from there by train back home to Tokyo. A fantastic trip to a part of Japan, which I had already learned to love in 2015, on my first trip. Chiba Prefecture has a very special place in my heart and always will. This is where it all began for me, and my path always led me here for whatever reason. Maybe it's the sea, perhaps it's nature, maybe it's the magical beaches, maybe it's the warm people, and maybe it's the food. I do not know. This is a very special place for me on our beautiful planet.


Christmas and Silvester


In addition, the preparation for the kimono contest was now in the foreground for me. But more about that later. First, the holidays like Christmas and New Year came, which I spent with my host family. Christmas is celebrated here relatively less significant, but the focus is on New Year.

This was an excellent opportunity to bring a bit of German culture to Japan. So I baked stollen, we put up a Christmas tree, and we had German-style potato salad and wieners. Just the way it should be.


New Year's Eve is slightly different here in Japan than in Germany. In the week before the New Year, we were busy cleaning and tidying up to rid ourselves of dust and the legacy of the past year. We prepared food for the first and second of January, as it is the custom in Japan not to work on these two days. And that includes cooking or cleaning up.

On New Year's Eve, the whole family gathered, and we had soba (buckwheat noodles), representing long life. We played games, watched comedy on TV, and the kids slept a little bit ahead. At 11:45 a.m., my host sister Eri, Wakana, and I went to the Buddhist shrine to usher in the New Year. Tokiyoshi and Masako (my host mom) met us a little later.

In Japan, it is customary to say goodbye to the old year by ringing 108 bells. At Buddhist temples, there are big bells that are rung ceremonially. But not something 108 times in a row, and then it's over, but every citizen who wants and takes the trouble to stand in line for a long time gets the chance to strike the big bell once. With this, he can cleanse himself and the family from the 108 sins in Buddhism. As I think, an excellent and calm custom.

After that, we went to the main shrine for the first prayer of the new year. This is important in Japan and is called "Hatsumode" (初詣). Here one gives thanks for the last year and expresses the wishes, plans, and goals for the new year so that the gods can provide support from the beginning.

Here is also drawn the first Omikuji (おみくじ) - prediction, which is symbolic of the entire new year. What differences are there, and how to read such an omikuji? I wrote in an extra post because this would be too long.

Then it went for us back home and, once again, a short stop at the Shinto shrine at our house where it was Amazake (sweet rice wine) to drink and where we Omamori (お守り) small protective amulets bought.

Afterward, we went straight home and to bed.

The first New Year's Day was, typical for Japan, very relaxed. We did nothing except play games, lie around, chat, and eat. I enjoyed the free time and played a lot with the kids.


Hatsumode - 初詣

On the third of January, I met with two former classmates to celebrate Hatsumode again in kimono. I helped them get dressed and drove to a shrine I had already visited once with another friend in the summer.


I am so grateful for all the wonderful people I have been able to meet and appreciate during my ten months here in Japan. I have found friends for life here with whom I share not only memories but also views and dreams and who support me and my plans wholeheartedly.

 

Thank you, thank you, thank you for reading this far. You can't imagine how much it means to me that you took 5 minutes to read my text and maybe even look at the pictures.


I'm looking forward to telling you about my next adventures.

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