Happy New Year! I almost forgot to get this blog updated for today! We just arrived back home after a week’s break in Australia and got busy cleaning the house, picking up the dogs from the nearby doggy hotel, and laying around a little while.

But the New Year is here, and we went to the shrine to make our “hatsumode”, which means, “first visit of the year to the shrine”. It’s nice. You get in line with all the other visitors, greet the people you know with a “Akemashite Omedetou gozaimasu!” (Happy New Year!) and then approach the shrine. You bow twice, the priest gives you a blessing, you drop money in the offering box, shake the rope to ring the bell, clap your hands twice, make your prayer (brief and to the point is best), bow once more and let the next person behind you step up.

Then you go and get your fortune. Usually it is another small space on the shrine grounds where you drop a 100 yen coin into a box and then reach into a box to pull out a slip of paper. You can get Big Luck, Luck, Small Luck, or “watch out”, and then find out how you will fare in study, health, relationships, and business. I don’t mind saying that things are looking okay for the year ahead, so that is one thing off my mind.

But despite what fortunes may tell us at shrines all over Japan, I most sincerely wish that you have a great holiday season. I hope that you can have a time to think and reflect on all the things you want to try, achieve, and learn. I hope that we can all live with a little less expectation of others around us and more expectation of ourselves to be responsible for our own situations and to take command of our futures ourselves.

Lastly I hope that this year is one where we do what we can for our fellow human creatures, to reach out more to those in need, to ignore those who attempt to sabotage or rob us of life’s great pleasures and joy, and to grow in good humour and in good cheer.

I promise to do better on this site and update regularly. I hope that this small minuscule corner of the Internet will be of good service and of good use to those who come looking for information about Japan, Shikoku, and Kagawa. I look forward to talking more with you of the things that join us and our shared hope for better understanding, personal growth, and discovery.

Gratefully yours,

Mark Groenewold