As this newsletter is coming to you prior to January, Mrs. Hughes and I wish you and yours a Merry Christmas and a happy and healthy 2016.
As I type I think back on the training that we have done in the Hackettstown area since 1979. A number of the original students are still involved in our training. The training has remained traditional in nature, which is uncommon in these days because most directors of schools look to make money, sacrificing the “art and the tradition of self discovery and intrinsic improvement.”
One of the strengths of a karate training session is that the process is mental as well as physical, so the whole person benefits from the time spent in the dojo as well as during the disciplined practice at home. We cannot attempt to stay at the same level that we are at today. We must try to improve our abilities at kata, kumite, and self development.
Another strength of traditional karate training is seen when the student can focus his or her energies on the inner qualities that set our training apart from other forms of exercise. Goal setting is not unique to karate training but is at times different because we cannot look at just the physical benefits of an exercise program. We must take into account that we want to improve ourselves physically, mentally and emotionally. Think about what you want to accomplish during this year and write it on a piece of paper – – – put it away in a safe place (with your monthly dojo newsletters) and look at it every so often to see if progress is being made toward accomplishing the desired goal.
Accept the challenge of setting realistic short and long term goals. Be prepared to work toward the goal and step by step improvements will be made.
“Remind thyself, in the darkest moments, that every failure is only a step toward success, every detection of what is false directs you toward what is true, every trial exhausts some tempting form of error, and every adversity will only hide, for a time, your path to peace and fulfillment.” Og Mandino
Traditions for New Years In Japan
The New Year’s is a great time to celebrate the end of a year and the beginning of another year. For many, there are so many traditions associated with how they celebrate. In Japan, there are also customs and traditions associated with bringing in the New Year. Here are just a few of them.
In Japanese culture, the new year must begin on a clean slate. As a result, Japanese people usually partake in something called oosouji, or “big cleaning.” A lot of times, every inch of the household is cleaned, including places that remain untouched other times of the year. On a personal piece of anecdotal information, I remember my family moving even the fridge during oosouji, and vacuuming under there as well. It was exhausting for me as a child, but satisfying now to think of a house well-cleaned.
Eating Traditional New Year’s food
Another big tradition in Japanese culture is eating certain foods, Toshikoshi soba is eaten on the eve of New Years, while ozoni and osechi are enjoyed the actual day of.
On New Year’s, there is a tradition of handing a bit of money in an envelope to the children. It usually isn’t much, but it is something many kids in Japan look foward to. Sometimes adults will get them to, but I remember it being something reserved for children. It depends on the household how otoshidama’s are given out.
Another fun little tradition for many is to go out and buy fukubukuro on New Year’s. Fukubukuro are essentially surprise bags that many retailers sell at different price points, that people buy without knowing what’s inside. Usually the collective retail value of the items inside are worth more than what the bag was bought for, but part of the risk is not knowing what’s inside. These bags usually sell out fast as there are lines of people waiting to buy one, and it is a pretty popular little New Years tradition.
One of the more traditional New Year’s customs is Hatsumode, or the first shrine visit of the New Year. Many people go to visit a shrine on January 1st, 2nd, or 3rd, in order to pay their respects and also to wish for a happy and healthy year. The shrines tend to get very crowded, and families tend to all go together.
Another New Year’s tradition is to observe the first sunrise of the year. Although there are many people who won’t be able to wake up for this tradition, there are also plenty of people who enjoy partaking in it. There is something magical about watching the first sunrise of a brand new year.
There are many, many more Japanese traditions that weren’t even mentioned on this list. New Year’s in Japan is a huge deal filled with festivities and traditions. There are many festivals and music that go on, and specials on tv that air only once on New Year’s Eve. The customs vary region to region, and household to household, but we hope this list gave some insight into some of Japanese culture.
HAVE A HAPPY, PROSPEROUS AND PRODUCTIVE 2019!