Thursday, January 17, 2013

Sally Cristobal-Takashima

by Sally Cristobal-Takashima

Unang Pasada

Facing the East while awaiting the first sunrise of a new year gives a deeper meaning to the ritual of truly welcoming Year 2013.

In Japan, many Japanese prefer to be awake just before sunrise. But, in the Philippines and in the United States, late New Year Eve parties take a toll on merrymakers and heavy drinkers so they wake up much later in the morning, some still with headaches recovering from a hangover.

But, anywhere in the world, people try to catch up to relax so they can start the year refreshed and ready to tackle the new challenges of the Year of the Snake.

Habang sinusulat ko po itong article na ito, marami pa rin mga taong malalim na nag-iisip kung ano talaga ang mensahe ng 12-21-12 or the End of the World. Hindi naman daw ibig sabihin ay delubyo pero sa dami ng mga likas na mga sakuna, baha, lindol at iba pang mga kapahamakan ay maraming nagdadalawang isip na baka nga delubyo ang hinaharap ng mundo natin. Huwag nating lahat paniwalaan ang mga balita at sa halip ay alamin ang dalawang parte ng isang isyu at intindihin sa tulong ng pag-aaral.

Ang problema na dagsa ng impormasyon ay nililito ang mga tao dahil hindi na malaman kung sino ang paniniwalaan. Ang reaksiyon ay ang pagtanggi ng impormasyon o ang pagwawalang bahala sa mga pangkasalukuyang isyu, pagtawa o pagbibiro.

Ngunit maganda ang nabasa ko na bagong daloy ng makabagong sigla ang mapapasa mundo upang maalis kung ano mang katamlayan ang dumaan sa buhay ng tao. Ito daw bagong sigla na ito ay makakatulong sa pagpapatupad ng ating mga panaginip.

Most of all, Dec. 21, 2012 was the end of the Mayan 5125 cycle.

While you are reading the first issue of Jeepney Press 2013, you might still be eating some of Japan's New Year delicacies. The Toshi Koshi soba served early in the year is from Nov-Dec harvest. Like the Filipinos eating noodles/soba, it relates to a wish for longevity and recovery from debts and unhappiness.

Osechi Ryori started in the Heian Period (794-1185). It is a collection of various Japanese dishes arranged in tiered lacquered boxes called jubako. Each dish of osechi ryori carries with it a message, symbolism or a wish.

Kazunoko (herring roe/fish eggs) means Prosperity for descendants, a wish to be blessed with many children. Kamaboko (broiled fish paste) or white and pink kamaboko is for festivity. Datemaki (sweet rolled omelet with a castella flavor) symbolizes a man’s happy days who wears fine clothes and is having good times. Konbu (a popular seaweed used for making soup broth) symbolizes joy. Kuro Mame (sweet black soybeans is for good health. Tazukuri (dried sardines cooked in sweet sake and soy sauce) is for abundant harvest. Tai (sea bream) is celebration of a happy event. Shrimp is for longevity, and also  Zoni (clear soup with Omochi).

The celebration of special days is a Japanese custom of Chinese origin. The women are busiest in December and they have to complete the cooking, cleaning on or before New Year’s Eve. Some believe that the heavy work will help atone for their sins. Nowadays osechi ryori are sold in department stores but it is still cheaper to make them at home and mix with ingredients bought from stores.

Ohakamairi during early January can be tedious because of the traffic congestion. There is always a fight between my daughter and her 4-yr old girl about buying the Doraemon castella when we pass the temple stalls selling overpriced oden, yaki soba, takoyaki etc. The little girl often gets her way—hands down. It is New Year after all.

We go to Ohakamairi to visit my husband’s parents. The ritual starts by pouring water on the tombstone by using a bucket and a ladle provided by the temple. The water washes the dust, dried petals and leaves from previous visits. Then, the offerings of sake or shochu, flowers and incense are done followed by silent prayers. There is no hanging around, sitting on the grass, enjoying the fresh air like what we always do in Manila Memorial Cemetery. The ritual in Ohakamairi takes no longer than 15 minutes or more with picture taking.

As of this writing and it is mid-December, we have already made hotel reservations at a hotel famous for its onsen and breakfast. The onsens in Arima have a long history. It is said that great Emperors of olden times traveled for days just to rejuvenate themselves in the mighty onsens of Arima, in Hyogo Prefecture.

Filipinos visiting Kansai, I suggest you make Arima Grand Hotel the hotel/onsen of our choice next time you visit Kansai. It is a bit pricey but for New Year, everyone splurges.

Now for our Kansai update. The grand gathering of Philippine communities in Kansai to celebrate the 10th Anniversary of the Philippine Community Coordinating Council was held in Dec. 2nd at the Osaka Hilton Hotel. Filipinos from as far as Gifu, Nagoya and Hiroshima graced the occasion. PCCC granted awards and recognitions to various persons and groups who have supported PCCC in their various projects and events. Various lively Christmas parties were held in Nara, Shiga ken, Suita City, Osaka and Kyoto, all well attended by members, friends and supporters.

The Philippine Consulate General held a Concert of Philippine Classical Music at the Osaka International House. The event commemorated the Birth Centennial of Filipino National Artist Felipe de Leon and the 65th Death Anniversary of Filipino composer Francisco Santiago. The performers were Eri Yoshida, a lirico puro soprano who has performed in Italy, Austria, Philippines and Japan. Joseleo Logdat, a Filipino baritone made his debut performance with the Philippine Philharmonic Orchestra in 2008. He has performed in operas , among others, Pagliacci and La Boheme. He is now in Hiroshima taking his Master's Degree course.

The Osaka Prefectural Government invited the foreign residents to attend an Exhibit and a Lecture on Tsunami Storm Surge Disaster Prevention. We shall encourage more Filipinos to see the exhibition to raise awareness on how to prepare for any natural disasters. For New Year, let us hope that developed countries keep their promise of raising climate funding for poor countries to $100 billion dollars. About 20 typhoons hit the Philippines every year causing a lot of destruction. ( Let us thank Philippine United Nations climate negotiators for urging the UN to wake up to the realities of global warming and finalize their financial assistance program to nations affected by natural disasters.

Last but not least, let me mention about a very talented and already a champion in various junior golf competition-Ruji Nozawa, 13 years old from Kyoto and son of a Japanese and a Filipina from Cavite. He is a person to watch. Minasan oen shimasho. He is well focused and on his way to realizing to be a major golf player. Ganbatte ne Ruji kun. Behind Ryuji's success are supportive, multi-tasking Mom, Daisy and Dad whose first priority is the care of their family.

Feliz Navidad and Prospero Anyo Felicidad. Suma inyong lahat ang Masaganang Bagong Taon to all JP readers.

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