Shiwasu, the month when the masters run
In a few hours, 2013 will end. In some part of the world, the count down is about to start. For anyone, December is probably the busiest month of the year, buying present, having Christmas dinners with the colleagues and the friends, closing works before the holiday etc… For Japanese people it´s the same. December is also called Shiwasu (師走) in Japan, which means "teachers run". Great masters or monks are usually very calm and controlled but even they start running around because December is such a busy month. This´s why December is a month when even the masters are running around.
Today, on the day of Oomisoka (大晦日), Japanese people are already calm down, finished preparing the New Year food, decorating outside and inside of the house with lucky charms. Many of them are with their family and waiting for Joya no kane (除夜の鐘), the sound of the bells from the temples around Japan. At 12 o´clock, all the TV channels show major temples of Japan and people listen quietly. You can also go to a local temple to hit the bell. In theory the bell can be hit 108 times. Why? It comes from a Buddhist theory that each of us has 108 negative emotions (Kleshas) and by hitting the bell, those emotions are purified to start a new year with a clean soul.
Usually while listening to the bell, people eat Soba noodle, which is called Toshikoshi Soba (年越し蕎麦). Soba shops are very busy towards midnight because everyone wants to get delivered at the same time. It is said that people started eating Soba by hoping a long life and some even say it´s not good to bite the noodle because you are cutting the life shorter. At my home, we usually make our noodle. Well, since my mother prefers Raamen, we often sneak out the house to a Konbini to get a cup noodle. My father never allowed me to eat it but since he was always in sleep at that time, my mother let me have some secretly. Then we would come out the house and see the fireworks from the Disneyland. On the top of the bridge, getting cold and dry wind, there were some neighbours also came to see it. When the fireworks end, we said each other "Akemashite Omedetou (a Happy New Year)" and went home to sleep.
Shiwasu is about to finish. Everything is done now and nothing to you can do for this last minutes. We shall be just relax, enjoy the last moment of the year and hope for the new year. Are you ready?
Thank you for reading Iromegane this year. We try more improvement and hope you enjoy our site in 2014 too. Happy New Year!
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