Warm day and the snow started melting.
Then it got cold and the puddles froze into icy nastiness and the snow that was left turned crusty and yuk to boot. Bah humbug- I hate it when the weather won't make its mind up!
The girls weren't deterred and went out and made a (crunchy and structurally flawed) snowman.
And then they pushed all their snowballs and snowmen together and made a slide fro their sleds.
Then they came in for lunch and mucked around inside for a bit and by the time they went out again it was really windy and icy.
Never fear they got back on their sleds and kept sliding.
I was inside (I mentioned that I'm the sole sane Fukase- the one who checks the weather before deciding whether to have an inside day or an outside one, right?) when Meg opened the front door and bellowed:
MUM! The sled broke!!
Well, use the other one and we'll have to see if Daddy can fix it or whether we need a new one.
The other one ALREADY broke!
This all sounded a little odd, the sleds are pretty sturdy....
Sighing I bundled up and set out to see what was going on out there.
Well, the sled run was completely iced up and was built so you came down the ramp at great speed and hit the frozen bare ground smack with the front of your sled.
I asked Meg why she thought the sleds broke.
'Coz they're from last year?'
Hmmmm.... I think it's probably because you're using them where there's no snow honey....
We thought of that and tried our scooters but they slipped off the side of the ramp and it hurt.
Good lord. Great. And people always tell me girls are easier than boys....
I examined the sleds and determined they were both terminal.
Sad faces all round:
So we came in and got warm by the fire and all was well again.
We have a NY Eve tradition of eating temaki-zushi which is sushi that you assemble yourself. We first did this the NYE of the year Meg was born so she was 3 months old. It was when we lived in Saitama and my sister was staying with us that NY and it was just such fun we've done it every year since so 9 years and counting.
Each year it gets a little more family. This year Amy chopped up and mixed up the natto, Meg bashed up and cut up the cucumber, I did the avocado and the omelette and K did the rice and fish. A real family affair!
Man, I keep forgetting to move that washing before I take the picture- oh well, reality unedited here!
Amy and her sushi masterpiece.
Egg roll, cucumber and prawn.
And Meg's: eggroll, prawn and avocado.
Amy made an eggroll sushi just like the ones you eat at a sushi restaurant and was very proud of it.
After tea we settled in for the night. K told the girls they could choose between staying up till midnight and going to the neighbourhood temple to ring the bell or waking up to see the first sunrise.
Their eyes went super-huge and saucerlike and they both said 'midnight??!!' and I knew we had a choice made. To be honest I really didn't think they'd make it but the lure of lots and lots of tv and snacks and cuddling on the couch and the thought of going to the temple and they made it no problem.
Lots of cuddles and lots of snacks
At 11:30 we rugged up in our snow gear and headed to the temple. It wasn't snowing but the snow gear was necessary for the wind and cold. Picking up neighbour A on the way up the hill we arrived and it was like a little party up there.
Every other year we've gone it's been dead. One or two older people there, the priest and his wife.
This year there must have been 15 people standing around the bonfire and a couple more up on the bell-ringing platform.
The priest's wife explained.
Their son is back home and training for the priesthood and working alongside his father. He's in his early 20s and has a gorgeous voice for chanting (we heard him at a funeral earlier in the year) and all his friends were there as well as the usual crowd.
She was very proud of him as he had decided they should offer something to the faithful and made some pork and veggie soup himself and was serving it to everyone.
She was beaming.
We promised to try a bowl after we rang the bell.
Instead of being all worried about how many times the bell had been rung already and how close they were to the 108 necessary for warding off the 108 sins the priests wife shooed us up the stairs telling the girls to go for it and ring the bell as many times as they liked.
It was really dark and I couldn't get the settings on my phone right but here are Meg and AMy hitting the temple bell:
Amy (I think...)
A flash of orange as Meg went again:
My bowl of soup in the snow:
It was really good, too. That's one talented priest!
My favourite thing about our local temple though is that the priest's wife and daughter make the amulets every year.
And they are really sweet.
And instead of charging 800 yen for them like the local shrine does they give them out to everyone who comes to ring the bell.
So Happy New Year from me and this little guy: