January 2014

Happy New Year Hyogo!


I am writing to you from the past, in mid-December, far ahead of the New Year, hoping to leave my festive season free of editing work and full of food and fun. New Year has never been a big deal for me; parties are over-hyped, overpriced and impossible to get a taxi home from. As a waitress I would volunteer to work (for triple pay of course) and many years have seen me curled up by the fire watching Jools Holland’s Hootenanny with my parents – I am middle aged at heart and love it. In Japan though, New Year is far more family-oriented, traditional and refined. Following last year, when I scaled a mountain to see in the New Year (albeit by ski lift and a little after sunrise), my resolution is to take this small piece of Japanese culture with me and, whenever logistically possible, climb a mountain on January 1st.


January can be a tough month with wallets considerably lighter post-holiday, cold weather confining you to the kotatsu and big decisions to be made at month’s end. Still, it’s also a beautiful month, there’s snow to be enjoyed in the mountains, hot bowls of ramen and nabe to be guzzled and a few must-see festivals to be found. My personal favourite is the Wakakusa Yamayaki in Nara, commonly known as the Mountain-Burning festival. It is a pyromaniac’s dream and well worth a trip to our near neighbour on January 25th, especially if you catch the firework display in which last year they made a deer’s head in the sky – a deer’s head!


For those of you lucky enough to have an office heater do curl up at school with this month’s Hyogo Times. If you have no heater, my sincerest apologies for not providing you with burnable pages to warm you, but read on to distract yourself from your numb toes! The first issue of 2014 is packed full of articles, including old favourites and new writers and columns. In travel we have adorable bunnies or snowy mountains; in current affairs Sean is discussing Japan’s secrecy law; there are updates from AJET events, our next Kannon stop, a flavoursome recipe in time for Chinese New Year, the triumphant return of Miso Green, a bumper edition of Where Are They Now? to help you with that impending decision, and so much more!


So forget your half-hearted resolutions, pour yourself a glass of something to make your warm and fuzzy and enjoy.



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