As promised, I have a short write-up about 初詣 or the New Years Celebration in Hawaii.
To be honest, Hawaii is a bit different than Japan when it comes to celebrating the new year. Aside from the basics of visiting temples/shrines and buying おみくじ and お守り, folks don't really dress up for the occasion like Anise and Kana. (Although I used to when I was much younger!)
Fireworks are an important part of our local culture. They seem to be banned in most other states, but considering the sheer number of our Asian community, having no fireworks to ring in the new year is something akin to sacrilege. The popping usually starts sometime around 5pm when the sun goes down and most everyone goes nuts right around midnight. KS and I just popped a few that were given to us.
This year, we hoped to get an early head start at the temples (as they get quite crowded at the midnight hour - even worse the following morning) But... we got there a little too early. So early in fact, no one was there. Ah well, we were able to take some really nice night shots of the temple.
So, we head back to my family's place to partake in some 年越しそば, おでん and 酒. Toshikoshi soba are basically cold buckwheat noodles served with tsuyu, or sauce. They symbolize longevity and good health for the family. Oden is a mix of boiled foods like egg, konyaku, carrots, daikon, and konbu - good autumn/wintertime foods. (My mom loves the stuff.) Of course, sake to cheer in the new year.
No お雑煮、お節料理、or 赤飯 this year. T_T;
Most families buy charms for cars, study or home safety. After a year, all the paper charms are returned to the temple for burning. Similarly, old charms that have fallen apart or are being replaced get burned as well.
And finally, the fortunes of the year. They usually have cryptic sayings in both Japanese and English (at least in Hawaii!) with a description of your fortune and small break-downs of various topics like love, missing things, expected visitors, business, etc. For anything other than "Excellent" luck, we tie them to a tree in hopes of leaving the not-so-good luck behind. As you can see, KS and I both didn't fare so well.
Lastly, one thing that folks seem to do more of in Japan versus Hawaii are the 絵馬, or wish boards. In our New Year's strip, Anise evens the odds of her cryptic omikuji out by making a wish on her ema. They're not necessarily restricted to the new year, but are hung at the temple/shrine in hopes of a wish to come true. We can purchase them here, locally, but not many actually use them.
In closing, New Years is quite an event here in Hawaii~!