My grandmother's funeral.

 It was a sunny beautiful morning of last Thursday when I got a sudden phone call from my mother. She said my grandmother was dead in hospital, and asked me to come back to join a funeral. I said yes, and packed my clothes and daily stuff, then headed back to my hometown Nagoya with my brother.

 She was 93-year-old when she passed away. Born in 1925, she used to tell me stories in wartime: how she ran into a homemade shelter by covering her body with blankets to avoid fire from American bombardments: The electricity company she worked after Second World War. I always liked listening to her tender voice, and whenever she started talking, I couldn’t help coming to her.

 Thankfully, my family isn’t morally strict, and since many relatives came to the funeral (which isn’t usual), we decided to go to a Japanese restaurant to talk more about her, rather than being depressed individually. I know I wasn’t supposed to have fun to eat, I had many kinds of food from salad to beef pot nevertheless. For me, it was my own way of saying goodbye to my lovely grandmother.


A day trip to Kyoto on 2nd January, 2018.

 After coming back from a big event of first Shinto shrine visit Hatsumode (初詣) in Ise Shrine (伊勢神宮), we've already decided where to go on 2nd of January. It was going to be the old, most famous and popular destination Kyoto (京都) !


 Driving 150km to the west from my hometown Nagoya, it takes around two hours ride to get there. Along the highway was....

 ...endless mountains covered with snow, clouds were floating among them. It was just a scenery in Japan's winter, and I definitely love it :) With a couple of hot tea, chatting with my family all along, I felt like I could drive forever.

So, we're here :) Just a few kilometers north of Kyoto Station, there is a famous shopping district Nishiki market (錦市場) with a bunch of small stores selling from clothes to bite-size food. Since We both are big fans of wandering around, why don't we just stop by corners to take a photo? ;)

 I love those mossa-green dishes called Oribe (織部). With so many different styles and colours of dish in this country, that's my best :) Few blocks away from this arcade area, new year's bargain, the biggest bargain of a year, were held in department stores and sophisticated clothing shops. It's always fun to see people walking around with big square paper bags with a brand logo on their hands. Anyway, we sit at a cafe for a while, take a breath and rest, then go back to the car.

 I know it's completely opposite from where we were just ago, but there is another Kyoto to see before getting back to home. North of Kyoto, there is a Temple of the Golden Pavilion kinkaku-ji(金閣寺) . With its tremendously gorgeous looking, it's absolutely a must-visit place when you're in Kyoto. Every child who go to Kyoto for school trip is due to come to this Zen temple, including me (It's nearly 16 years ago, haha).  This shinny temple sits in front of a small pond as if floating on it, and when the sun comes out from clouds, it looks as if heaven was finally before us. So nice and worth visiting ;)

 On our way back home was stuck by heavy traffic jam, which put us additional
 five hours ride rather than just two hours for usual drives. It didn't annoy us, since we got plenty of time to talk :)


Japanese new year treat Osechi, and Ise shrine!

 Every year, I begin the first day with Japanese new year treat Osechi (おせち料理) with my family. Because typical family population in this country continue to shrink, most family is no longer cook a bunch of food in it themselves, instead they get it from department stores and so forth that offer a variety of them. Ranges from $100-$1,500 for a set, it all depends on how luxurious ingredients are, rather than the quantity. In this photo, I think it would be around $150. Once we celebrate new year, I hopped on my car with my family, driving to the southwest to one of the most famous Shrines in Japan.

 Looking from the window, we came across the pacific ocean along the express way. Shining from the east, the weather couldn't be better :)

 As we arrived, we were trapped with so many people coming to the shrine.  It wasn't surprising, considering the fact that it hosts around 500,000 prayers just in first three days of each year. Not all people are particularly religious, I believe. Many people come there to see their relatives, have drinks such as sake and hot meal in street stands along the way :)

 In a vast garden, there are woods, countless narrow paths, and even river. It's the best place to take a walk for the first day of the year! ;)


Good bye, unforgettable year 2017!

 Lots of thanks for the best year of my life, 2017!