It’s a bit late to wish you all a happy new year really, but as the Chinese New Year began on the 26th January, I will be a bit cheeky and use that to hope for a fantastic year ahead for all of you. Let’s all believe that the Year of the Ox, or Brown Cow, depending on which website you look at, is a good one. The inauguration of Barack Obama gave many people a lift last week, and already he has started putting to right the perceived failings of the previous President, whose name I have already forgotten. Anyway, more of the Chinese New Year in a minute.
I wanted to apologise for not writing anything on this space for a few weeks, as several of you have been asking why there was nothing new on the honTony blog. Well, just to say that over the Xmas period I was really busy and I had an assignment deadline on the 19th January for my studies. I understand that for a blog to be successful it has to be updated regularly, so over the coming weeks I will endeavor to continue to make two or three postings a week, as in the past, to give you something to read and comment on. As always, your comments are really welcomed, encouraged even, and if there is anything you would like my honTony opinion on, just ask!
So, back to the Chinese New Year. On Monday, I had to come to work for an important meeting. The top man of the whole British Council global operation was in Japan to talk to staff, so we were all encouraged to attend: it was a very interesting hour. However, as I had come so far into town for such a short time, I decided to make the most of my day and head down to Kobe to check out the New Year festivities in Chinatown. I am embarrassed to say that in 8 years in Japan, I have only been to Kobe 3 or 4 times, usually for a wedding!
Anyway I wandered around the streets with my camera in the cold January air, eating the delicious food (small bowls of steaming hot ramen, huge shumai and mustard, and Peking duck and plum pancakes, for example) and savoring the atmosphere.
There were lanterns everywhere, blowing in the gentle breeze, a procession of people in traditional costumes wearing fantastic make-up, and the sweet smell of Chinese incense coming from the small temple at the centre of the celebrations, where you could pray at a decorated altar and have your photo taken with a man wearing a very realistic pig mask!
Although it wasn’t as busy as I expected, probably because it was Monday, there were quite a few people walking in the narrow streets doing exactly the same as me! By 8pm, a slightly bigger crowd had gathered to witness the highlight of the day – the dragon dance.
The movement of the people operating the dragon and the ball it was chasing was incredibly well coordinated, and it was amazing that they didn’t crash into each other. The dance, backed by some simple drum music, was performed under ultra-violet lights, which empahasised the wonderful colours of the dragon and highlighted the spectacular movement, while the dancers, dressed only in black outfits, remained almost invisible. It was an exciting finale to the day and the kids among the spectators were particularly happy.
The celebrations go on all week until the weekend and there are especially lots of things happening on Saturday and Sunday, with a full schedule of events on both days. I would really encourage you to go and have a look if you have some free time.
Another thing worth having a look at is your Chinese horoscope for the year of the Ox, or Brown Cow. I read mine and it seemed quite realistic! Click here to read yours!