Happy Year of the Dragon!

(Fireworks as seen from our balcony in Tübingen.)

On my way to Germany in December, I flew through Shanghai, and a Chinese woman about my age sat next to me on the first leg of the journey from Tokyo. We found we had a lot of things in common. She has lived in Japan now a little longer than I have, she is a student in Tokyo like myself, and we were both on our way to spend the holidays with our families.

A more random commonality she and I shared was the cultural heritage of setting off fireworks at New Year’s. I remember the first night of a trip I once took to Shanghai years ago was the last night of the lunar Chinese New Year celebrations, and private citizens were setting off fireworks in the streets as I watched from our high rise hotel window. The same, my seat mate said, happens in China on the western calendrical New Year. And so, said I, at New Year’s in Germany, and she looked at me surprised.

So, here is a photo of some private fireworks I saw at midnight on January 1, 2012 from our balcony, which overlooks part of Tübingen, Germany. If it hadn’t been for the vigorously chiming bells throughout the city or the colorful stars bursting in the sky, the incessant explosions, shouts, and billowing gunpowder smoke throughout the city might have lead one to believe there were a war underway. Perhaps for the people setting of the fireworks, it was a moment of cathartic ecstasy. But I was so tired from staying up past midnight that I somehow fell asleep despite the ongoing blasts, hearing sirens through the haze of my encroaching dreams.

I wish you all a happy 2012!

5 thoughts on “Happy Year of the Dragon!

    1. Dear Gene,

      Thank you!

      And no, I haven’t read any of RH Blyth’s books, but I saw that he read haiku as a kind of Zen art form, although Basho for one did not seem to think the pursuit of poetry led to enlightenment. That ambiguity in the general understanding of Zen and art is an issue that I would like to learn more about, and I love older versions of Japanese poetry, so I know that eventually I will get to haiku. Have you read any of his work?

      Warm wishes,


  1. Sleeping in the middle of a German Feuerwerk, this is really something !!
    Hanna, I wish you a wonderful New Year 2012 -health, happiness and
    all things you wish for to come true.
    For Japan I hope this year will be calm and quiet with more time to recover
    and start anew.
    Thanks for all your posts – I enjoy your blog very much.
    Love, christiane

  2. Sorry I haven’t got to reply sooner. I was introduces to Basho,Issa and other Haiku poets about 45 years ago. I have read Blyth’s books several times. The first time they didn’t mean a thing to me but as my life experiences grew they started to have some meaning—perhaps as I experience more I will understand them better. I do think that Blyth tends to spend to much time trying to explain what can only be experienced.

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