Posts Tagged ‘ 明けましておめでとうございます ’

Happy New Year 2014! ・ 明けましておめでとうございます!



Akemashite Omedetou Gozaimasu!

Happy New Year!

2014 is the Year of the Horse!


I took this photo at some friends’ house a few years ago. Newtown, Connecticut.


In 2013 I published a book, a memoir of 30 years back and forth between Japan and the U.S.  (with a few India and China chapters). The book was, and remains, Dancing Over Kyoto. I published it as an Ebook. In 2o14 I plan to publish an expanded edition of Dancing Over Kyoto in hard copy form. I’ll update this site in the spring or early summer when that gets done.

Japan Noumen Newton 01y - Copy


2012: Happy Year of the Dragon

“Happy New Year” .  .  .

Akemashite Omedetou Gozaimasu!  ・ 明けましておめでとうございます  —  in Japanese.

Shin Nian Kuai Le!新年快乐  —  in Chinese.

The Cloud Dragon. Ceiling of Tenryuji Temple (Kyoto) Teaching Hall.


I stayed a couple nights in Kyoto’s Tenryuji Temple in the Spring of ’91.  A group of fellows from my small, Hyogo Prefecture town, and the local Renzai Sect priest, invited me to travel with them for a weekend at the temple, about two and a half hours away by train.  These were the same guys with whom I’d experienced a Sunrise Meditation several months before, on a chilly December morning.   This weekend in Kyoto, though, turned out to be something different.  No meditation, just an enjoyable Weekend with the Guys in the Big City.  That’s another story, though.

Another Kyoto “Dragon Temple” I’ve visited — this one many times over — is Ryoanji, not too far from Tenryuji, the “Dragon at Peace” Temple.

Lantern Detail. Ryoanji Temple. Kyoto. May 2010.

So long 2011

There’s an expression, a kotowaza, in Japan:  “Time (flies) like an arrow,” or 光陰矢のごとしKouin ya no gotoshi.  So it is.  So it is.  I’ve been a little sad to see 2011, the Year of the Rabbit, pass by.  But such is the way of things です、ね.


2012 is the Year of the Dragon.  For more on the East Asian / Chinese Calendar, click here.  Dragons are a big deal in Asia.  All over the world, actually.  St. George, and all that.  And there’s Tolkien’s Smaug, of course.  We can’t forget one of the West’s most famous dragons… Puff.  And there’s Albi, from New Zealand.  But in Asia dragons are mostly, mostly, considered lucky and venerable, though wild and unpredictable, creatures.

A client in Japan sent me an New Year’s E-Card a couple of days ago.  It was littered with pictures of seahorses.  In Japan seahorses aren’t seen as seahorses, but, rather, as little baby dragons, or (竜の落し子) tatsuno-otoshigo.  The card read in part:

In Japan dragon has been worshiped as water god that controls

clouds and rain for good harvest.

According to the ancients, those born in a Year of the Dragon (…1928, 1940, 1952, 1964, 1976, 1988, 2000, 2012) tend to .  .  .

. . . live by their own rules and if left on their own, are usually successful. They’re driven, unafraid of challenges, and willing to take risks. They’re passionate in all they do and they do things in grand fashion. Unfortunately, this passion and enthusiasm can leave Dragons feeling exhausted and interestingly, unfulfilled.

While Dragons frequently help others, rarely will they ask for help. Others are attracted to Dragons, especially their colorful personalities, but deep down, Dragons prefer to be alone. Perhaps that is because they’re most successful when working alone. Their preference to be alone can come across as arrogance or conceitedness, but these qualities aren’t applicable. Dragons have tempers that can flare fast!

The Dragon Year will not only be celebrated in China and paid homage to in Japan (and Korea), but all over the world, people will be marking and celebrating the Year of the Dragon.  Here’s what’s going on in Los Angeles, for example:

LOS ANGELES, Dec. 20, 2011 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ — The Year of the Dragon is a significant year in Asian tradition:  the dragon is sacred and symbolizes strength, luck and new beginnings. Throughout Asia and also in the U.S., cities are preparing for this important time of year with much fanfare and celebration—this is especially true in Los Angeles’ most unique historic district, LA Chinatown. LA Chinatown hosts one of the largest New Year celebrations in the country with more than 125,000 attendees convening in the district for the weekend-long celebration.


And in Washington, D.C.  .  .  . in Sydney .  .  . in London .  .  .  and Birmingham, Alabama.

.          .          .

Please come back for updates. . .


Welcoming the Year of the Rabbit: 2011 (兎年)

= And for 2012… The Year of the Dragon  =


Everyone’s visited a Chinese restaurant (talking about “Westernized” ones, outside of China) and spent time mulling those paper place mats showing the Chinese zodiac that feature the animals associated with this or that year.  The zodiac runs in 12-year cycles, taking 12 years to run the 12 corresponding animals (Horse, Ram, Monkey, Rooster, Dog . . .).  Ages ago the Japanese and Koreans embraced the Chinese Zodiac as their own.  2010 was the Year of the Tiger.  For those who born in 1998, 1986, 1974, 1962, 1950, and so on 2010 was — at least in theory — a particularly auspicious year.  This year, 2011:  it’s Rabbit Time.

Determined Rabbit: Mangling the "Chōjū-jinbutsu-giga"

The rabbit above is turned 90 degrees from his original, rolling-on-his-back-laughing image from the famous Chōjū-jinbutsu-giga (Scroll of Frolicking Animals) from around the 12th Century.  Above is from a photo I took of an ad at Rub a Dub Reggae Bar in Kyoto in November 2009.   

The coming year, 2011, will be the Year of the Rabbit,  (兎年usagi nen)  the 4th year in the 12-year Chinese Zodiac.  I was born in 1963.  Thus, 2011 is supposed to be a particularly good year for me and all my various brother and sister Rabbit People around the world who were born in 1963 (1951, 1975, etc.).   We’ll see.


. . .  And to our Chinese Friends out there:  新 年 快 乐!


2010 Bounen-kai

Over the past week or so Bounen-kai (忘年会), Forget the (past) Year, parties have been transpiring throughout Japan.  Office workers, school teachers (administrators, school board officials, PTA heads), production plant line workers, college departments, wherever there has been a group of people working together, there’s likely been a bounen-kai celebrating making it through, or even celebrating, 2010.

2011 Shinnen-kai & the Year of the Rabbit

And, after January 1, a new round of parties will commence:  the Shinnen-kai (新年会), or New Year’s Parties.  Lots of food, lots of drink, lots of conviviality and optimistic toasts to 2011 (Note: in this post from last year I go into some depth about New Year’s Customs in Japan: Akemashite Omedetou Gozaimasu), the Year of the Rabbit.  We’re Moon Children, by the way.  That’s not a wolf thing in Asia, it’s a Rabbit thing.

“Bonus” –>  A Rabbit in the Moon commercial.

I’ll just list some of the better qualities of people born in Rabbit Years (’51, ’63, ’75, ’87, ’99).  You can do your own research to find our myriad (supposed) faults.  According to this site:

The Rabbit is the happiest sign of the Zodiac  –  gifted, nice to be with, discreet, refined, reserved, ambitious but not too much so, and virtuous in the bargain.  Nobody ignores Rabbits, for they are good company and know how to make the best of themselves. . .  The Rabbit is lucky — with brains and only a little hard labor, the Rabbit can go far. Rabbits seem to be born with an innate sagacity, a natural shrewdness which makes them streetwise when it comes to the affairs of the world. . .  He shines in trade, especially in some offbeat aspect of it like antiques, which permits him to capitalize on his good taste.  Politics, diplomacy and the law all offer the Rabbit equally good opportunities — provided always that he can live the tranquil life he craves within their orbit.

I like what this site says, well, some of what it says:

Quietly charismatic, thoughtful and calm, rabbits are admired for their tactful and considerate dealings with all who know them. As such, they are most often depended upon for their wise counsel, or as someone in which to put valued trust in a personal friendship or a business dealing.

One of the most cautious signs in the Chinese zodiac, they are the chess players who take their sweet time before making a move. Yet, they are also the ones most likely to win any intricate game of strategy!

This most obvious of rabbit personality traits also spills into their romantic dealings, and rabbits will not commit to any one person right away.

[but. . . ]Once they are settled down in a domestic relationship, however, no truer or more sweeter spouse is likely to be found.

In dealings with family and friendships, they can always be counted upon for a sympathetic ear or a gentle hand to hold.

What can I say?

Happy New Year.  明けましておめでとうございます!