Don't Sigh! I went to the annual Dontosai Festival at my local Shrine/Temple (Yakushidou) where people gather to toss their old New Year's decorations in a giant bonfire and pray for good health and fortune.

For dinner, I ate a savoury pancake called an Okonomiyaki. The lineup was really long though that gave me a chance to watch it being prepared.

The finished product.

While in line, I espied a mini-parade of dudes in white and snapped a quick pick.

I've gone to Dontosai before (here and here) and both times I didn't get to see the half-naked guys traipsing around in loincloths. This time, I went earlier and was fortunate enough to witness Hadaka-Mairi, and witnessed some loinclothed men and ladies.

I'd always heard that it was a guy-thing, I never expected to see young gals doing it.

On the way home, a tiny bakery was doling out amasake, a super-sweet porridge. Pretty good but similar to putting way too much sugar in you oatmeal.

A nice festival to witness, I'll probably go in another 3 years.

Addendum: officially pissed off. It took ages to upload those videos above and none of them show up! Grrr...
Now I have to upload them to YouTube and then paste them here. Sigh!


Can You Kanreki?

Last Christmas just happened to coincide with my 60th birthday (It's a secret though! Don't tell anyone!). After three days of HoHoHoing with a bunch of wee lads and lasses, I stayed home on Xmas Day and just rested. (Besides, no one invited me over nor was there anything going on downtown.) I insisted that my fellow Santas sing "Happy Birthday" to me, otherwise I'd be stuck singing it to myself.

I'm digressing for I want this post to be about my birthday, not Christmas so I'll save that post for later.

This sake is what I drank in the wee hours of December 25th while reading Facebook and relaxing. I appreciate all the birthday wishes I received from FB friends upon that day. I spent the rest of the day binge-watching the first 8 episodes of Star Trek Discovery. Not a bad way to while away the time.

I wasn't going to bother even mentioning my birthday and then I came across this article about one's 60th birthday as completing a full circle called Kanreki. It all has to do with the Japanese "Zodiac" and animals and jikkan and stuff. Just read the article if you want more details. Here is the kanji for Kanreki and a depiction of the Animal Calendar.


Aaaand, the most important reason I'm bringing up my birthday is because I just received a kick-ass supply of swag from a friend who just returned from the UK!

First up three large wall-hangings featuring everyone's favourite shellhead, Iron Man.

I'm not sure where I'll put them, but I'll find somewhere.

Juggling balls! I can't juggle, I guess I'll have to learn.

Courtesy of his mom, she insisted on giving me a gift. ("Any friend of my son, is a friend of mine.") I never would have thought that mugs and socks would go together, glad to be proven wrong. How'd she know I love the Hulk?

A pencil case-sized metal tin in which he had stored his inaugural Pokemon cards from the 90s. He plans to get them appraised and sell them and no longer has use for the tin.

Once I learned that his younger sister collects Comic Hero Funkos, I gifted her with about a dozen of my doubles of Mystery Minis for Justice League and Spider-Man. She reciprocated with a plush Rocket!

Finally, I received an unopened Voyager watch from 1995! My wrist will be assimilated as soon as I find out what battery it takes.

It all came nicely packaged in a huge Spider-Man shopping bag. Woohoo!

It's been 7 years since he returned home to visit his family. I'm going to insist that he go back more often!

Now it's up to my other friends who went back to the States to surpass this haul. The bar has been raised!


Hats Off to Hatsuuri!

January First is a day of reflection, praying at a temple or shrine in the hopes that the following year will be prosperous. Then the next day, all that is forgotten and the masses go forth and shop till they drop. 初売り (hatsu-uri) is the first shopping day of the year and it's a lot like Boxing Day or Black Friday with far fewer riots. Everyone's goal is to find that special 福袋 (fukubukuro), a "Lucky Bag" that includes sale items. 

Almost every year I fight the crowds downtown in order to buy a Bag from the Totoro Flower Shop which always has an awesome bag stuffed full of Ghibli goodies. I arrived at 12:30 and they were sold out; usually they sell out between 2-3 o'clock. Ah well, not to be dissuaded, I popped into the Disney Store and they had over two dozen bags stuffed to the hilt with a Mickey Mouse menagerie for 3000 yen. I popped upstairs for a moment and when I came back down, the last one was being sold. I did purchase some Marvel figures at half price though, so my efforts weren't wholly in vein.

These were the only two left. Too bad, for I'd love to get a Thanos.

I couldn't resist some KitKats with original Disney packaging.

Speaking of Disney, I won a nice Sorcerer's Apprentice Mickey at UFO Catcher

I popped into BookOff cuz I knew they had a sale. I found a few Movie Pamphlets and this awesome Funasshi (Fun Pear? Mascot) cosplaying as Godzilla.

I didn't buy much else for the crowds were getting too crowded. I grabbed three Lucky Bags from the 3 Coins Shop (a high-end Dollar Store) on spec, just to see what I'd acquire.

Bag one: some cleaning supplies and a mini throw rug. Always useful.

Bag 2: a couple of mini-bags for hauling around your iPhone, a tissue box holder and a "make your own box". Not quite as useful, yet I know someone who'll appreciate the Hedgehog bag.

Bag 3: ten bottles of fingernail polish and some press-on designs. Not very useful for me but I know some gals who'd like to receive them.

Not bad for under ten bucks.

I saw this outside a Drugstore and I had a chance to win a roll with a purchase of 10,000 yen. I didn't want it that bad.

Ultimately an unsatisfying haul, though the sale should continue on tomorrow and the next day...


Am I Boaring You?

Out with the Old, in with the New. The doggies are out, the piggies are in. I walked to our local temple/shrine and bought an inoshishi (猪 or イノシシ).

There was quite the lineup waiting to literally ring in the new year. The tradition is to toss some coins, clap one's hands, and ring a bell in hopes of good luck for the following year. 

I chose to avoid the 初詣 (hatsumōde or initial Shrine visit) and just bought my pig instead.

My favourite part of Mutsu Kokubun-ji Yakushido Temple is the spitting turtle.

Here are some photos scammed from various sources (mostly conbini) depicting this year's wild boar.

My New Year's Eve and the three days prior have been exceedingly uneventful, I watched several seasons of The Walking Dead while housecleaning. I couldn't not have a drink to celebrate, so I cracked I polished off my Christmas Sake and opened my Ultraman Sake.


Have an Ultra-Happy New Year!

As for the title of today's post, I realize that I've been negligent in posting since Halloween. Hopefully, I'll be a little more attentive in the following year.


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