Last week, one of my students asked me if Shishimai visited us last year.  I didn’t know what that was, so he explained it to me.  Shishimai is the Japanese Lion dance, where a Red Lion dances to bring good luck in the New Year.  And I believe to ward off bad spirits and to bring a blessing to your house.  It is an Asian tradition, and varieties of the Lion dance exist in China, Korea, Taiwan, and Japan.  They are pretty different in each country (based on my extensive wikipedia research).  In our region of Japan, one person dresses as the Red Lion, but in other countries sometimes it is 2, 3, or 4 people.  Last year, we had just moved into our house, but I remembered hearing the Japanese bamboo flute and drums.  We were too busy moving in to really investigate further, and figured it was something happening at our local shrine.  Apparently, it was Shishimai!

This year, I am excited to say, we were visited by Shishimai!  We thought we would not receive the visit, as Jan. 1st came and went.  However, on Jan. 2nd our doorbell rang and the Red Lion, along with a group of five or six musicians were at our door.  James came running into the bedroom, yelled “Shishimai is here,” and I think I woke up faster than I ever have!  I ran down stairs just in time.  We tried to come outside, but they motioned us to go back in and then asked if they could come in.  Before we knew it we had a red lion dancing in our house to bring in the New Year.  AJ was not entertained and was a bit freaked out.  It was awesome.  Then someone with a mask came in and danced, but I’m not sure what that was.  After it was over, we thanked them, and then they invited us outside to take some pictures. When we were outside, the Lion was trying to bite AJ, which I think means good luck. I wish I had been more awake, but it was still a great way to start the year!