I wanted to write sooner, but haven’t had much time. New Year was busy here, but we had fun too. December 31st, also known as Ōmisoka (大晦日) my wife made lots of good Japanese cooking. This is toshi-koshi soba (年越しそば) which is typically eaten on the night of the 31st:
Toshi-koshi soba isn’t much different than regular soba, but maybe decorated more. My wife used tempura on her soba as you can see. Since we have Japanese TV on cable (thanks to TV Japan), we watched the yearly special Kōhaku Uta Gaseen which is a battle between female musicians (red team, akagumi 赤組) and male musicians (the white team, shirogumi 白組). Each team has many, many musicians who perform and eventually judges (and the audience) decide which team put on a better performance. This year the white team won, and honestly I think they deserved it: the female groups just weren’t very interesting this year. It was the usual mix of large girl groups, Enka singers, and really strange performances.1 The male group definitely did better this year. On amusing example was an Indie group called Golden Bomber (ゴルデンボンバー) who always do silly or funny acts. At the end of their performance of their hit song 女々しくて, a second group of “fake” members came on stage to bow, but then metal pans dropped on their head.
If you happened to follow me on Twitter, you probably saw my play-by-play commentary of Kohaku anyway.
Anyhow, Kohaku ended around 10:30pm Pacific Time, so my wife and kids all went to bed. I stayed up for some reason (I drank too much green tea earlier) and played some games on my iPhone. Shortly after midnight, i went to bed.
The next day, oshōgatsu (お正月) was pretty busy too. My wife prepared home-made osechi-ryōri or New Year’s Food:
In the “Mickey Mouse” bento boxes are things like:
- Kinpira – sauteed winter veggies like carrots and gobo.
- Roasted chestnut
- Niimono – stewed vegetables and chicken.
- Kamaboko – small round fish cakes (goes well in soups).
- Sweet, black beans – not sure what they’re called.
- Meat rolls with kinpira inside and so on.
And I prepared New Year’s Food, Seattle-style:
New Year’s in Japan is a much bigger celebration than in the US, so there’s a lot more to eat and do. Of course, the opposite is true with Christmas: there’s a lot more to eat/do in the US than in Japan.
As soon as we sat down for the service, Little Guy started crying because the bells were loud. I took him outside, and waited in the house next door for the service to finish. Then we switched, so my wife watched him while I sat for the next service.
Also, by chance, I was oncall for New Year’s Day, so I was supposed to stay home. Thankfully, I got a co-worker to cover my shift at the last minute, and so I will cover his shift on Saturday, plus I bought him a nice omamori charm to say thanks.
Finally, we went home, played, ate, etc. In the evening, my wife and I did more house-cleaning because it was still a mess from Christmas, Princess’s birthday and such. It’s a bit late for 大掃除 (New Year’s clenaing) but oh well.
So that’s it for 2014 New Year’s Day. Next week we’ll be back to regular schedule on posts. See you soon.