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New Year Day in Tsukuba

December 24, 2013 2:43 PM

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I have lived in Tsukuba for several years as an international student. I always choose to stay in the New Year days in Tsukuba instead of going back to my home country because I think it is a good chance for me to experience Japanese style New Year. So, now I would like to tell you about my experience.

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From December, you can see winter illuminations in Tsukuba Centre Square, Central Park and everywhere around the station in Tsukuba. I am lucky to see those beautiful illuminations without visiting far places but in my neighbourhood areas.

When you talk about Oshogatsu, the Japanese New Year, don't forget about hatsumode. On New Year's Eve, we, students who stay in the dormitory gather round and have dinner together watching special holiday programmes on TV. And when the clock tells you 0:00 of January 1st, we start to Ichinoya Shrine by bicycle. The winter chilled air kills us but it's very fun to visit a shrine for the first time in the year. When we arrive at the shrine, we wait in the line to pray. This shrine is not far from the dormitory, so, here it is crowded not only with Japanese but foreign students from all over the world. You can see that all the people are here for hatsumode with expectation for the new year.

What is the most impressive memory for me is that I shouldered a mikoshi, a portable shrine in keidai , a precinct of a shrine once. I was asked if I would like to shoulder a mikoshi, when I had just finished my prayer and saw a mikoshi which was placed nearby. I took the chance. I joined the other people to shoulder mikoshi and went around. It was heavier than I expected but I made a good memory to have a special sense of unity with the other members.

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So, all this experience became my best memory of the New Year in Tsukuba. I won't forget the cold air of that night, the festive atmosphere and the sense of unity with people even after I go back to my home country. If I get a chance, I will tell about the Japanese customs of New Year, especially about my experience in Tsukuba to people in other countries. How was your New Year of 2014?

Raruaisong Tanapat

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