The Hatsuhinode in Okinawa

The new years holiday has passed and things are pretty much back to ‘normal’ now. I fell off the blogging wagon for a bit, but am hopefully on a roll to share with you some photos from my family trip to Okinawa!
This was our hatsuhinode (初日の出).

Ever since I started living alone, I’ve been going home to my parent’s place for the new years holiday. First it was Akita, then Osaka, and now Imabari. I can’t imagine not spending the holidays with family (probably because I don’t have a family of my own yet). So despite the expensive airfare and crazy holiday traffice, I always head home.

But this new years holiday, I decided we should all head down to Okinawa to spend new years with grandma. Because we moved around a lot, I never got the chance to spend vast amounts of time with my grandma after moving away from Okinawa when I was four. I send letters and we talk on the phone…but you know, it’s still nothing compared to actually spending time together.

Last time we were in Okinawa for Golden Week, we were only there together for four days and my baby sister was still in boarding school and couldn’t be there. But now that my parents are retired, they’re a lot more flexible with their schedule, so I thought what better time than now for a family trip to Okinawa? Especially when this years new years holiday gave us nine consecutive days off of work?

It ended up being the best idea ever.

The warmer weather was just what everyone needed, we got to catch up with old friends and family, and best of all, my grandma kept on telling me how happy she was to have everyone there for the holidays!

Made me so happy.

One of the things my grandma and I were excited about leading up to this trip was hatsuhinode, the first light of the year. And despite the weather forecast for a cloudy day, I kept my hopes up that we would be able to see a peak of the first sunrise together.

My uncle’s family drove down to see the sunrise with us. We all gathered (this may wound weird…) at my grandpa’s grave, because it has a really great view of the sea facing east. You’ll see that Okinawan graves are much larger than the one’s in mainland Japan. We waited in the cold for quite sometime as large clouds blocked the sunrise. But because it was so windy, it blew the clouds away and we were soon basking in the warm rays of this year’s first sunrise!

For me, it was the best way to welcome the new year.

Here are some photos:

The morning started out with massive clouds covering the sky.
But as the sun rose, the clouds slowly moved away.
Everyone waiting to see the sunrise between the clouds.
And there it was! The first sunrise of 2015!
There were a lot of oohs and ahhhs as we all basked in the sunlight.
The clouds came rolling in again, giving us an even more dramatic sky.
Smiles and warm tea bottles.
After gazing at the ever changing sky for a while, it was time for family photos!
First family photo of the year!
We also brought new flowers for our grandpa and ancestor’s grave.
The view right before we left to go back home.
We all came back to eat breakfast together.
No better way to warm up than to eat hot oden and other new years dishes.
My sisters and cousins…we all decided waking up before dawn was worth it! x
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5 thoughts on “The Hatsuhinode in Okinawa”

  1. Happy New Year, Kaori! What a great way to start off the new year! It's kind of embarrassing, but I can't even remember what I was doing on New Year's Day… Old age has taken over, obviously.

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  2. I did that once at the coast in Chiba: 初日の出. We made wishes and mine came true later. Did you wish for something?

    Those dawn photos are stunning.

    Both you and your grandmother look like you are getting younger. Something about Okinawa? Aren't Okinawans the longest lived in that part of the world? I should have said: in the world. Period.

    I am glad to see your cousins M and R again since around May 27, 2013. They definitely seem to be nicely acclimated to things now. Sharing all that great food and the pleasure of all your company would be super for anyone.

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  3. “Comfortable” is the word I would use to describe their smiles now that M and R have gotten a bit used to you guys. Maybe not so much the word “comfortable” even: more like just a part of the family.

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  4. I did not know we were supposed to make a wish! Although I had been fervently praying that the skies would be clear enough to see the 初日の出 in Okinawa ever since I booked this family trip, so I guess that wish came true for me!

    I think the life expectancy for Okinawans is quite high but I remember hearing that they lost their top ranking a few years ago. But you're right, they do live a long time. I think it has something to do with the warm temperature and how community oriented they are?

    Yes, I think my cousins are both quite comfortable now. We text each other and send pictures from time to time, even though we are far apart. They were family the minute we first met them but it was fun getting to spend more time together, especially since we got to spend the night at their home! 😀

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