Christmas and New Year

Hello everyone, happy new year to you! Let’s hope that 2021 will bring some nice memories, a more normalized and quiet life and a decreasing number of COVID infections. Looking back on 2020, I find it difficult to describe how this year has been for me. We experienced a lot of crazy emotions during this pandemic months, from sadness or anxiety to the feeling of getting used to it - we have felt it all. I guess everyone can relate to the shock you felt when you realized the fact that suddenly, all things you took for granted weren’t possible anymore. For us it has been the closed borders in Japan that prevented us from going home and the uncertainty when we could see our family members anymore. But also adapting to new routines was not an easy process. Constantly thinking about the pandemic, about potential risks for yourself and your family or friends is not good for your mental health. I really hope the situation will change this year, so that we at least can feel a little more at ease than in 2020.

We spent the last days of 2020 in a very quiet way, trying to take a deep breath after the crazy whirlwind of 2020 and to figure out what to plan for the next year (spoiler alert: nothing is decided yet). Before Christmas, we had the chance to enjoy the snowy mountainside of Iouzen at the Toyama area of IOX Arosa and to get our heads cleared by the sun and the snow!

That was really a very nice day and helped a lot to relax. In 2020, nature has always been my therapy for calming down. :)

Christmas during a pandemic

As you might remember from our last Christmas post, Christmas is not a national holiday in Japan and life goes on like usual. Therefore, it’s not easy to get into the Christmas mood if no one really celebrates it. This year, it was especially strange for us, due to the COVID situation and to the fact that we were spending it for the second time in Japan with no visits in between, something we would have not thought possible last year. But, the COVID crisis changed anything and of course, we were not the only people who were affected by that. Therefore, we decided to do our best to make it special and enjoyable. Niklas took some days off, I cleared my teaching and work schedule as well so that we could spend some quiet days at home. We had to give up some last minute travel ideas due to the massive increase in COVID infections in Japan, deciding to stay at home and not risk anything.

But it was far from boring! Due to the fact that our families were in a lockdown too, we had many long Skype calls in the evening every day and really enjoyed talking to everyone! In fact, we really were quite busy with all the meetings that we couldn’t even exchange presents on the 24th!

When we were not talking to our families, we were enjoying a lot of good food. :D

A wonderful dish: fried chicken, curry and salad!

Of course, we also ate fried chicken exclusively on December 24th, as it’s a tradition in Japan

And Christmas Cake

Ramen to keep warm

A dish with fish to eat a little healthier than the days before

Sadly, the snow that had been falling the week before had vanished just in time for Christmas, we only had rain and the landscape looked a little gloomy.

Not easy to get back into a winter Christmas mood after seeing the snow melt so fast! However, the Christmas illuminations in the city helped a little bit. :)

Nonetheless, we took a long walk through the city after Christmas (to burn some calories) and enjoyed this dark, moody winter atmosphere.

Saigawa River

Random street in Kanazawa

Snow storm for New Year’s Eve

Just in time for the New Year’s Eve, a new winter storm came to Kanazawa and turned everything into a white winter landscape. It was so beautiful, I really enjoyed the snow!

Asanoriver in a snow landscape is beautiful

Love our neighbors house!

I thought it was quite a lot for such a short time, but many people told me, it was nothing compared to the real heavy snow that Ishikawa was already expecting for January.

Cars started to vanish

We also went out for a night walk and it was so special! Loved the atmosphere

On New Year’s Eve, we just met with some friends in the evening and had a relaxed time at their home, not going out or doing anything party related. As you might have read in my post last year about New Year’s Day, on December 31st Japanese people usually spend a quiet evening at home, preparing for the New Year’s Day as this is celebrated with a huge family gathering. Of course, this year many people decided not to visit their families due to the COVID infections. So most of our friends stayed in Kanazawa this year, also not traveling anywhere. We enjoyed a funny and relaxed evening, watched a little bit of the year end show called Kohaku Uta Gassen and drank a lot of wine.

Last selfie of 2020

First selfie of 2021

Walking home through the snow cleared our heads but still, we were really lazy on the next day and spent it mostly indoors (as it was raining again!), waiting a bit longer before we would make our trip to the shrine.

Enjoying a sunny New Year’s Morning

Hatsumode, the first shrine visit of the year is very important in Japan. Due to the COVID situation, we decided not to go to one of the big shrines to avoid the crowds and walked to a very small shrine that is close to our apartment. Last year, I really enjoyed going to Oyama Jinjashrine as there were a lot of food stalls, you could buy nice souvenirs and of course get information about your fortune. Sadly, this year we had to refrain from doing that but at least, we had this great experience last time!

Visiting our local shrine was also nice and very private - we had a nice walk and were lucky, it started to rain after we got home! :D

We also went for a walk through Kanazawa Castle Park some days later to enjoy the last bit of snow.

As the weather was really gloomy, there weren’t many people around, so it was really nice! A quiet but good way to start a new year.

No one around

Up next

You liked the snow pictures and think that was a lot? Brace yourself for the biggest snowstorm that Ishikawa has seen in the past years - during the last days, we were basically snowed in and couldn’t go anywhere. Hokuriku saw a massive blizzard, bringing an endless amount of snow and ice. Beautiful but scary at the same time. In my next post, I’ll tell you all about that experience. In the meantime, follow us on Instagram for more pictures and stay safe!