Hatsumodo in Virginia

Watching the First Sunrise

Hatsu means first in Japanese. This year my life is centered in Virginia where champagne toasts and midnight kisses are more popular traditions and most of us sleep through the beginning of New Year’s Day while black eyed peas slow cook but in Japan the first sunrise is a big deal.

Toshigama, Japanese God of new year, harvests and ancestors, grants wishes to those who stand outside watching the first sunrise. I doubt I’ll see a chimney sweep today like I used to in Germany and I can’t go shopping for happy bags (another Japanese tradition) but sunrise is something you can do anywhere and it only costs the effort of being awake at the right time.

My house sits behind a ridge causing a delay between official sunrise and when I’m able to observe it. A gap in time I’m appreciative for because without it I would have missed the routine experience that’s new everyday.

It’s inspiring.

The sun’s glow is powerful enough to light the entire sky and push darkness away from the world on which it shines but just a few trees are able to restrain its effect. After a few minutes the sun raises above the trees breaking the obscurity blinding me.

I’ve made my wish, started the black eyed peas cooking, set the first loaf of bread to rising, and 2018 is underway. This year, when I’m blocked and feeling defeated, I just need to remember the sun.

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