Saturday, January 01, 2011

Oshogatsu (New Year)

New Year (oshogatsu) is the most important holiday in Japan. Holiday usually starts from 29 December - 3 January and most businesses are closed during that period. New Year is the time to gather with family and travelling from/to big cities could be a nightmare, as it is extremely expensive and crowded.

On 26th December, people usually change all the Christmas decoration with new year decoration, which are made by pine, bamboo, and plum trees. And inside the house, there is also a kagami mochi to welcome New Year.

People (read: Housewives!) clean the whole house before New Year (Osouji = big cleaning up). Such a hardwork for me, God I miss my maid in Sorowako, Maria during those awful time! But Iki helped me this time, cleaning the sofas and the whole carpets. Thanks, my boy!

On New Year's eve, people eat buckwheat noodle (soba) as a symbol of long life

The sunrise of the first day of the year is pretty important. Most people get up early, some go to higher buildings or mountains, or beach area for better view. Last year we had the first sunrise from our boat on the lake, such a beautiful once in a lifetime experience! This year? All of us were up late :p

The New Year meal is Ozouni, soup with toasted mochi on top. Ozouni varies based on each location in japan, and clear chicken soup broth is the based soup in our house.

It is eaten together with Osechi Ryori, a traditional Japanese New Year food, beautifully presented in a two or three layered traditional box.

I learnt to make this complicated meal in Sorowako last year from Mariko and Miwa, was actually tempted to buy the ready made from the store, but at last put myself into trouble and made them!!! I actually just finished preparing those food and took a bath just before 2010 changed into 2011!

But I am really satisfied and proud of myself (^___^). The pre-ordered Osechi is very expensive. One box cost like 200-500 USD!

There is tradition to visit temple and pray during the first three days of the year. I don't know when will we do it as temples would be full of people during those period. I think Hiro will just wait until the third week :p

2010 was a great year for us. It is our first whole 4 seasons living in Japan. I got a lot of new experiences and friends; and enjoyed every minute of it. I am so excited to welcome 2011, with whatever waiting for us there (^___^)

Happy New Year, friends. Hope 2011 will be a super year for you too!

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