The old calendar fills me with gratitude like a song. Yosa Buson (1716-1783)
It’s 11 January, 2020. Surely not too late to contemplate what the Year of the Rat will bring. In Japan the new year begins on 1st January but nation-wide celebrations continue for about ten days. I understand that rats are not only quick and highly intelligent but are capable of playing hide and seek! That makes the rat seem more attractive.
My friend Barbara sent me a photo of this display in her home to mark the start of this new year. All year the display is both a thing of beauty and a reminder of what this particular year may bring — new opportunities. According to the Japan Times,
… the Year of the Rat (2020) is expected to be more about progression and starting a new project with great energy, astrologers say.
That sounds promising and I’ll go with that.
In Japan, every new year inspires thought and action
Yet every new year is highly significant in Japan. The briefest look at the traditions incorporated into my friend’s New Year display shows how this time of year has a whole nation refreshing and rejoicing and starting anew.
- The little wooden plaque with a white rat was one of many painted by my friend’s husband for Tenmangu Shrine in Osaka where they were married, so it’s very special. (These prayer plaques are called ema, for sale in Shinto shrines. They are one of my favourite folk-art souvenirs of Japan.)
- A furoshiki with images of rats serves here as a table cloth
- A box with temari balls
- The celadon sake cup was made by Kim Pan-ki, a famous Korean potter
- The many customs of Japanese New Year are rich with tradition and meaning
Your new opportunities in the Year of the Rat
I’m excited about 9 new projects on my plate in this Year of the Rat. Obviously that’s too many, but I kind of like it that way. I’m highly incentivised to get cracking and work fast to get them done. How about you? Never mind last year. This year, what is possible?