Thursday, January 3


Happy New Year!

P-chan and I commemorate
Sorry, dawg, I know you hate this one...

I know it's way past the New Year already, at least here in Japan, but...

I've done my best to remember everything we did and ate, with a little help from some online resources to fill in the gaps.

Kagami mochi

When I first got up, Aya's mom was busy getting the kagami mochi (snowman-looking rice cakes) , candles and sprigs of pine ready to place around the house as an offering to the various gods.


When we sat down for breakfast, the first thing we did was have a bit of special sake. As we raised our glasses, everyone made a toast for a healthy, happy New Year. From there we had the traditional ozoni, a yummy soup that in Aya's mom's case was made from mochi (chewy rice cake) and a "leafy green," and lightly flavored with soy sauce. Then, of course, came osechi, an assortment of special foods to help bring in the New Year. The most symbolic were the items on the green plate on the far left, which we ate first. Clockwise from the top right:

Kuri (chestnut) Sweet and gooey, these chestnuts are to bring "smoothness" to your year.
Kuromame (black beans) Also sweet, they are for a long and prosperous life.
Tatsukuri (small fish used to fertilize rice fields) Flavored with soy sauce, they are for health and prosperity.
Kazunoko (Herring roe) for fertility.
Kohaku Kamaboko (pink and white fish "cake", center) Red and white, the colors of New Year.

The other levels of the jubako (stacked bento box) offered an array of treats that I was "too full" to sample.

After breakfast came the dressing up. It is tradition for the women to get all dolled up in kimonos, even if they're just hanging around the house. I didn't put on any makeup, but I did get to wear one of Aya's mom's kimonos - circa 1960-something.

Aya and her mom had as much fun dressing me up and "doing my hair" (Read: Slapping a clip on my ponytail to hold it out of the way. They liked it so much that way, that we just left it.) as I did getting dressed up.

Aya's obi

Aya wore a cute pink kimono that was also worn by her mother when she was in her twenties. It was the same kimono that Aya wore for her college graduation.

My obi


When I got home, I too had received nengajo - New Year's greeting cards. My one card and Japan Post greetings paled in comparison to the rubber-banded stack that had arrived at Aya's house that morning. But at least I got a rubber band... and someone thought of me...

Nengajo are so important, that the postal service makes a special effort to deliver them exactly on New Year's Day, hence the bound pack that Aya's family got. You've gotta love the Japanese postal system. Things are delivered quickly, even on holidays sometimes. Instead of just sending it back as they'd said they would, I was even hand-delivered a package I'd forgotten to pick up from the post office. On New Year's night. In the snow.

Six Degrees

The New Year, however, hasn't been entirely kind so far. Although it did provide us with a lovely all-day splattering of snow (which of course didn't stick in the least), it also brought with it a sharp drop in temperatures. When I got home at about 4:30 Tuesday afternoon, my kitchen was only 6 degrees Celsius (42.8 F). Yesterday (Wednesday) morning it was 4 (39.2).

Welcome, Winter. Gambare, Heated Toilet Seat.


Blogger Melissa said...

How exciting! You had a real Japanese new year! And you wore a real kimono, which by the way was very groovey (^_<) Looks like you found something to wear to the wedding, eh?

As far as nengajo go, its not how many one gets, but from whom

6:55 AM

Blogger Melissa said...

P.S. : Would that package be 'ye' package?

7:21 AM

Blogger Abbey said...

No, unfortunately, it wouldn't...
Everyday when the mailman pulls up on his "otbai" I hope he's going to knock on the door... or slide a "pick up your package" slip in. So far, no such luck.


10:34 AM


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