New Year's is one of the biggest, if not the biggest, celebration in Japan. I've been starting to miss the traditional "Advent Wreath Workshop," many chapels have; this chapel hasn't had one in four years. I was excited when Akikosan told us we'd be making New Year's Wreaths today.
I had a few doubts when we walked into this room filled with straw. I told Arielle I felt like Rumpelstiltskin.
Seriously, it's amazing what happens when you fill a room with rice straw and some ingenious, knowledgeable Japanese - along with a few happily inept Americans. ::grin::
Making these "wreaths" were more work than making Soba Noodles....by the time we were done we were shedding layers of clothes.
I was struck again with how precise things are done here. We pulled 30 pieces of straw from the pile.
We then made three piles of 10 each and tied them at the top. Stacia ALWAYS scores lots of help.
Next you take two of your three, 10 strand piles and tie them together. You put them end to end and tie them in the middle. You slide your long bundle of straw until you have an X shape. Then you are supposed to SQUAT and put your foot in the middle....while you twist one strand one way and another another way..... As I began to feel the burn and wonder if I'd be able to WALK by the time this thing was done, I glanced over and realized Stacia had found an easier way to stomp on the twists of rice straw. ::grin::
After a significant amount of rice straw twisting you have one long rope of straw. Just for fun you take the forgotten THIRD pile of straw and now add it in the middle, make the X and do the squatting twisting with it. ::snort::
There was a lot of laughing in the room. They were gracious to help us when needed...and Arielle and I got a kick out of how they decided ours had to be redone as it wasn't "right". I brought the house down with laughter when she picked mine up and gave me a perplexed look. I said, "It's American Style." ::snort:: They made me redo it. (Shhh....I didn't really count my straw). It was all cheerful!
In the end our loops of straw began to look like Shimekazari. We will accessorize them before 1 January.
They turn out looking like this one....In my search for real directions to post I discovered there is a lot of symbolism in these things we don't really abide by....and I began to understand why the sweet lady insisted I HAD to have white slips of paper on my decoration. We'll just hang them as a fun Japanese New Year decoration and leave it at that.
|Look who is tall enough to be in the back row!|
Shichinohe is about 45 minutes from our house. The farm was another 10 minutes out. They have a Soba restaurant that is open year round....there's a ski area nearby. Follow the signs that say "Shichinohe Ski Area" and you may find this.....It was fairly tucked away.....In fact this is the back side of the building - not the side which faces the road! I was amazed to find a restaurant so off the beaten path - but that's common here. It's really a beautiful area...lots of snow, river and fireflies in the summer.
Random thoughts: There is a measure of peace in knowing everything from baking to wreath making has a set way to be done. I am not sure creativity is as valued in the Japanese learning environment as it is in America. I really don't KNOW about that...but I am left wondering as I realize every learning situation I have been in here has had a very clear "right" way for things to be done.
One sweet lady told me Arielle was "a number one student." I suspect her blond hair and winning smile have a lot to do with this. ::snort::
I wish we'd found opportunities like this earlier in our assignment.
Living all of life before the face of God...