Happy Coming of Age Day! Not really sure how to say that in Japanese, or if there even is a way to say it. (Much like we don't say Happy Labor Day! in the US.) But Coming of Age Day is called 成人の日 「せいじんのひ」 "Seijin no Hi" in Japanese. Anyway, on this day, everyone who became a legal adult (age 20, in Japan) since last year's Coming of Age Day is allowed to get all dressed up and celebrate! This usually entails dressing up in a kimono (or suit and tie for the guys) and going to a shrine to bow, pray, and do the usual. I didn't go out today, seeing as how my Coming of Age was over half a decade ago (damn, I feel old saying that!).
Two days ago was the "cutting of the New Year's rice cake," or the 鏡開き 「かがみびらき」 "Kagami Biraki." This literally means "Opening the Mirror." It's because the mochi (rice cake) resembles the shape of a mirror. Or so I've been told. This ceremony was held in the 桜花館 「おうかかん」 "Oukakan", also known as the 武道館 「ぶどうかん」 "Budoukan": the Martial Arts Hall. (FYI, the Budoukan in town is named the Oukakan.) At the event were some traditional blessings and prayers, the first martial arts practices for the three major clubs, and eating of mochi! Yay!
I met the Karate Master. He came up right to me as soon as the ceremonial stuff was over (and before training) and we talked martial arts. It was strange though; one of the first things he did was to ask me which martial arts group I wanted to join. He seemed very eager to take me in as one of his students. And it seemed as though he had already heard of me and already knew of my desire to enroll in a local martial arts academy. After some discussion, I found out that the first practice of the year (after the Kagami Biraki) is tonight. At 7 PM. So, in less than an hour, I'll be out there! Oh boy. Wish me luck!
Oh, yeah, after the practice, we ate mochi soup! It was delicious! But they made me get seconds, and they filled the second bowl completely (and with a ton of mochi). I sat next to the Karate Master and he looked over at me, laughing when I looked like I was struggling finishing it all. After I was done, he said, "You must be tired!" (お疲れ様でした。 It's said at the end of a work day. Haha.)
Word of the day: 頑張ります！ 「がんばります！」 "Ganbarimasu!" It means, "I'll do my best!"