As I failed to write a new year greeting at the beginning of 2017, I’m making amends by doing so at the start of the Chinese New Year, as the Year of the Rooster starts today. This year is my year!
‘In Chinese astrology, each zodiac year is not just associated with an animal sign, but also one of five elements: Gold (Metal), Wood, Water, Fire, or Earth. Both the zodiac sign and the element shape the astrology of the year. For example, 2017 is a Fire Rooster year. Element-sign combinations recur every 60 years.’
We Fire Roosters are meant to be ’Trustworthy, with a strong sense of timekeeping and responsibility at work’ but don’t believe everything you read.
Back at the start of the calendar year there were the usual queues to get to the shrines for hatsumōde 初詣, the first visit of the year, and nearby Meiji Shrine is a focal point in central Tokyo with crowds prepared to wait for an hour or more at midnight of 31st December. Also at Meiji Shrine, in the first week of the year the yokozuna (Grand Champion) sumo wrestlers brave the cold to perform, with much foot stamping the entering the ring ceremony before the start of the January tournament.
Just up the road in the Tokyo Opera City complex, another cultural event took place this year. Normally seen in the summer months, especially in Harajuku, a local group put on a yosakoi traditional dance performance.
Yesterday I had my new year pilgrimage to Kamakura for my own supplications where there is a very wide choice of shrines and temples at which to do so. It was the first time for me to visit Eishoji temple, the only remaining nunnery in Kamakura and off the main temple trail. With its architecture and peaceful bamboo garden I was able to face the Year of the Rooster suitably relaxed in a very spiritual setting.
So whichever new year you are celebrating, and with whichever cultural events you choose to celebrate it, may I wish you a very happy and prosperous one with my own resolution to write more, and more often.