Traditional Carving Knife Ceremony
Japan abounds in traditional ceremonies so unique that foreigners are often taken aback, as western housewives use kitchen knives everyday thinking nothing of them - except, perhaps, how to keep them sharp enough - and find no reason for a ceremony for the knife's sake.
Here in Japan, however, we have a ceremony to play up the role of the carving knife.
On January 2, Yokohama's Kakushokaku stages "Hocho Shiki" or carving knife ceremony where master cooks dress sea bream with knives and chopsticks only. Sea bream is a fish of good omen and has long been used to play up happy occasions.
Now, the curving knife ceremony dates far back to the Heian Era and this Japanese garden has made it an annual event to stage the ceremony on the second day of January.
Local cooks, clad in the Heian costumes, cut up the fish in a masterful manner into the shape of "Takarabune" or a treasure boat with knives and chopsticks. It may sound easy to do but certain it is not.
A 70-year-old lady from Yokohama commented:
"I found in the ceremony a truly traditional way of celebrating the Japanese New Year. I'm sure good things will happen to me this year."
Sisters in the 20s from Tokyo said they were lucky to witness an age-old skill performed right before their own eyes.
As you all know, Japanese cuisine is widely accepted all over the world - sushi, tempura, sukiyaki or you name it. Japanese dishes are delicious, good for health and even charming to look at. But, then, not many foreigners know we stage ceremonies for the sake of cooking utensils! The carving knife ceremony is more a ritual than a mere ceremony, because we Japanese find God even in a blade of carving knife. (Nathan Shiga)