January 1, 2004: "Hatsu-Moude"
HAPPY NEW YEAR! Time turned to a new year quietly. Beautiful daffodil blooms in my garden.

We were lured out by warm clear weather to pay our first visit to a shrine nearby on foot.

We crossed Oita River. A new bridge is under construction. The landscape here will soon be changed.
We walk along a narrow pass in the dried rice paddies. A small Jizo, a guardian deity of children, smiles at us with a lovely bib around the neck.
A local red train (Kyuudai Line) runs down in the field to Oita.
About 40 minutes walk took us to Kaku shrine. We entered from the back gate.
The shrine was founded in 836 A.D, they say. It worships two Gods, Takenouchi Sukune and Tateiwa Tatsuno Mikoto. The shrine famous for its Daimyo procession held once in every six years.
We found a rice-cake making in the precincts.
Some local members of Kaku Young Sweet fish group take care of it. The visitors enjoy trying the making.
Many people are working behind the scenes. A lot of rice is steamed quickly.
The steamed rice is then rounded into small cake and powdered with Kinako flour for serve.
We enjoyed it as well. My husband enjoys cask sake.
I took sweet sake. It was very hot and good.
The holly horse looks down the good turnout.
Then we lined up at the end to pray before the altar.
We bought a Hamaya, a decorative arrow supposed to ward off evil. Lovely monkeys are painted on it as we have a "Monky Year" this year.
After the praying, we left the shrine. This is the front gate.
We walk back home on the bank of Oita River. Many wild ducks rest their wings on the water. Some small birds crossed the bank in front of us. Some enjoy flying a kite and walking the dog on the bank.
We returned back to the bridge construction site.
Red Nanten nuts in red in the garden of a farmer's house.
I found rape blossoms in the sunny spot.
We then visited Hayashi shrine close to my house.
Lovely Koma-Inu (a pair of stone-carved guardian dogs placed at the gate or in front of a Shinto shrinej and beautiful camellia welcomed us.
A big Shimenawa, a holly straw rope, is attached on the holly tree.

We have visited two shrines this time. We hope we will have a good year.