A cool, dark winter morning and my daughter, Lorna, is driving up the Cypress Mountain road. She is going to the Lookout parking lot, the one with the marvelous view. With her are three young Japanese women.
Why a trip to a lookout, and in the dark? Because it is New Year’s Day, that’s why! The parking lot is almost empty when their car pulls in. As the darkness lightens the crowd grows. Soon the Lookout is packed with Asian people. All are here to greet the first rays of sunlight on the first day of a new year, and from the highest point reachable. Harsuhinode, as the sunrise ritual is called, is unique to Japan although there are similar ones in other Asian countries, complete with their own cultural differences.
The atmosphere is one of anticipation, excitement, and celebration. The sun peeks over the horizon, pouring out its life-giving rays as it does. The crowd roars with delight. Cameras flash, prayers are chanted and joyous confusion reigns. Each person makes his or her response to this special moment of the New Year. Continue reading