The little mouse of the Japanese New Year
In our last post about Christmas in Japan, we write about the New Year in Japan being celebrated with family at home. It is a time when you also savour some delicious Setchi ryouri (extremley long to cook!) as well as seasonal oranges.
As part of the tradition, people go to temples at midnight to thank the gods for the previous year, and wish good fortunes for the coming one. You can always go the next morning too.
The most popular temples are invaded by big crowds of believers and non-believers.
Jumping on this opportunity, many food stalls are set up on the paths leading to the temples: you can try a large variety of salt or sweet food, such as warm Yaki-soba (sauteed buckwheat noddles with ginger and other ingredients depending on the recipe) or spongy Castella (Portugese spongy cake, with egg, flour, sugar and starch syrup; imported in Japan during the 16th century).
In Japan, each year is dedicated to one Chinese astrological animal.
This year was the boar year, and 2020 will be the mouse/rat one. Do you know this small rodent has save the powerful Shinto God Okuninushi?
The story has been related in the paragraph about hell in the Kojiki (Chronicles of Japan), and tells the story as below.
Okuninushi had been put to the test by his father Susanoo, God of storms and son of Izanagi. For ihhis third trial, he had to bring back a Kabura arrow (a type of ceremonial arrow that whistle when shot, thanks to the perforated bulb of wood attached to the tip) he would have shot towards the wasteland.
As he advanced in the fields to get back his arrow, Susanoo put fire to the land! Surrounded by fire, Okuninushi is cornered.
That is when a mouse gets out of nowhere and tells him: "Look at the inside, outside is becoming to narrow!", informing him that flames are progressing but there is an escape.
While Okuninushi was waiting in the cave for the blaze to calm down, the mouse brought him back the arrow.
Thanks to the help from the mouse, Okuninushi successfully passed this trial.
All our team members wish you the very best for this New Year!
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