Japan’s 2015 Year of the Sheep New Years Stamp

This coming new year, the 2015 postal stamp stamp designer is Ayaka Hoshino. She also designed the stamp 12 years ago. Twelve years around the zodiac and it will be the Year of the Sheep again.

In 2003 the sheep was shown knitting a ball of yarn. Twelve years later we see the completed knitting project! Clever. And required patience.





Visiting the Sensoji for New Year’s

Yes, we are still in the middle of the New Year holidays here in Japan. While I visited my local temple and shrine on the 2nd, today, January 4th, we visited the Sensoji in Asakusa. It’s so crowded that it’s all but impossible to get into the main building. But even the side streets are exciting during this holiday season.

Approaching the Sensoji, there was a nice view of the Sky Tree, and the Kaminari mon (the main gate). I don’t know the guy whose face sticks out in the full front photo of the entrance.




1531950_10152122557935726_253358234_o1602096_10152122557930726_1217093947_oSushi candy. Who could resist? I managed to.

1496356_10152122565065726_1776089400_oThere’s this great senbei shop on a side street. That nice looking omiyage is maybe for… Me! It would all break if I shipped it, right? 🙂

1490686_10152122566855726_1295883029_o1559479_10152122566845726_476902105_o1537497_10152122566865726_1803354342_o1503430_10152122566860726_1548741302_nTraditional Japanese festival fare. Yaki something-that-was-once-alive, and banana chocolate.

I never noticed this large bell before.

The crowds, and some views of the main temple.

1526377_10152122654100726_2020413265_n1496240_10152122654115726_283465197_o884499_10152122654105726_942287480_o1523620_10152122654120726_866169942_o1502347_10152122654110726_2091725111_oSome parting shots. Including the Koi pond.

886769_10152122765970726_1174691525_o1540337_10152122765965726_1866586708_o1545207_10152122765960726_428445635_nHave a good 2014.

Hatsumoude 2014 in my neighborhood

Never let it be said that my neighborhood is bereft of traditional Japanese culture. The Shofukuji is an ancient Buddhist temple, and is a mere two minute walk from my house. And around the corner from the Shofukuji is a Shinto shrine. We went over today for a low-key, neighborhood hatsumoude.

The Shofukuji is more interesting than the shrine, and dates back hundreds of years. I think the history might go back as far as the year 1300.

Here is the entrance to the temple.


And some photos from inside. The bell is what I heard ringing on New Year’s Eve from my house. The grave markers go back 300+ years.








And here are a few photos from the shrine around the corner from the temple.





Finally, on the way back, just around the corner from my house is what I guess you would call a tiny little branch office of the temple. It’s been sitting there on the corner for over 250 years. I’m not sure who takes care of it.