Sunday, December 31, 2006

New Years Eve

It is New Years eve. The S.O. has been driving me nuts today with having to clean house, which is a Japanese tradition. The cleaning is called Susuharai, or soot-sweeping. Both inside and outside the house, the stains, physical and spiritual, of the past year are rubbed out in order to purify the home and make it fresh for the New Year.

She says it's what you do to "welcome the New Year". I keep trying to remind her of this great western tradition that we ought to look at too-so far to no avail-namely, going to a party, getting wildly drunk, and then coming home in order to have spectacular sex after midnight. She continues to ignore me for yet another year-but hope does spring eternal.

We did reach a compromise of sorts on how to spend this New Years eve. We will eat Soba with dinner, then she will watch 2 hours of the Red and White show, after which we will go join a party already in progress and end up watching the fireworks in the park at midnight. I guess that's progress of a sort, although the little voice inside of me keeps telling me I would be happier here or even here. As I have had to do in previous years, I just squashed the voice and moved on.

I suppose I am supposed to publish some sort of a retrospective / prognostications for 2007. I'm not going to do that. Besides many of my observations from last year are still quite apt, so I'll not repeat them.

Yesterday the S.O. and I went to Tokyo and strolled around the Ginza. Its a great time to be doing that, if you are a girl people watcher like me. The stores are crowded as folks are buying their food and other items for the New Years holiday. Plus as you walk around the food floor, there are lots and lots of FREE SAMPLES! That alone was worth the price of the train ticket.

Today the S.O. and I went out walking in town. Its a fun time of year to be doing that especially as you walk in and out of the little grocery stores and fish markets. They are working feverishly to sell their stock and the cacophony of voices is amazing: "Irashimase! Yasai wo katte kudasai!", get repeated again and again. We bought what we needed and made our way to the department stores-I was hungry and wanted another free lunch! New Years food is called Osechi-its designed to stay and be able to be eaten cold without spoilage so that Okasan can talk with the family. Lots of people buying wine and sake too.

We did go to dinner in Yokohama last night, which was nice. As I said earlier, tonight is soba for dinner-another Japanese tradition-which you eat for long life. I'll try to eat as much as I can............ :-)

It's cold today, but the weather is clear. That's nice. Here in Japan starting on Thursday night, travel both out of, and within the country, so much so that airports and train stations were crowded nationwide Saturday as the outbound rush of New Year's holiday travelers peaked. JR Tokaido Shinkansen Line trains departing Tokyo were running at more than 100 percent capacity in their nonreserved sections, with one of them marking 190 percent at one point. Which probably explains why the Tokyo subways were actually not so crowded. ( Crowded by Japanese standards that is.....).

Please go check the links to some of the other blogs I link to. Lots of ideas about the news and the New Year which are worth seeing. Stop by and say hi to Madame Chiang!

The new years decorations are up, We have a miniature kadomatsu on one of our tansu's. (The real thing is too expensive!). The kadomatsu is thought to welcome good luck into the house:


Definitely not our front door!

We do have the Shimenawa, a sacred rope made of straw on which zig-zag strips of paper have been hung, hanging high on our front door:


Also not our door!

Gotta run! Its time for dinner and then get ready for the evening. Have a happy time on New Years eve!

Mou ikutsu neru to oshogatsu
もういくつ寝るとお正月
Oshogatsu ni wa tako agete
お正月には凧あげて
Koma o mawashite asobimashou
こまを回して遊びましょう
Hayaku koi koi oshogatsu
早く来い来いお正月

Translation:
How many more nights to sleep until New Year's Day
In the New Year's holidays, let's fly a kite
Let's play with a spinning top
Come, come quickly, New Year's Day

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