Thursday, January 06, 2011

New Year

I have definitely lived here too long.... After spending 11 New Years in this little valley I think I have perfected most things. I don't have to ask what day the mochi (rice cake) making is on, I can roll the mochi into perfect rounds, I don't blink twice when my father-in-law wanders around with tissues stuck up his nose, and I enjoy digging into a freshly made bright green, sticky rice cake filled with sweet beans almost as much as the children do!
I also know which meals we will be expected to spend at the in-laws and exactly what we will be eating each time. I know that I am responsible for the potato salad on the first night and for cutting up the vegetables for the "barbeque" style fry up on the second night. I know that I am responsible for washing the dishes while my husband sits in the heated table drinking beer and talking with his uncle. I know that it is pointless asking to have the TV turned off during any second of our time there and having the volume turned down when my father-in-law is going increasingly deaf is also a losing battle. I know that we will start eating dinner at 4:45pm each night, despite the fact that no one is actually hungry. I know that we need to take plenty of warm clothes and torches for the cold, 100m walk home each evening. I know that we are expected to be at the in-laws for breakfast of vegetable and mochi soup on New Year's day and that the children will be given envelopes of money which I can no longer steal off them and discreetly deposit in their bank accounts.
Knowing all these things doesn't make New Year in our family any more exciting, but having experienced EXACTLY the same thing for 11 years does make it predictable and therefore relatively relaxing. I'm not going to try and change it. In my mind Christmas is for the children and New Year is for the older generation here in Japan - lots of traditions, not so much excitement! I hope you all had a good New Year with the occasional surprise thrown in!


  1. Wow. I bet that was difficult to get your head round when you first arrived in Japan.

  2. I love that your family has such a traditional New Years! That is honestly, so cool. And homemade mochi, omg! Looks so good! With my husbands family all the way in Osaka. And since he works for an American company so he doesn't get off Japanese holidays. We are most always certainly here in Chiba for New Years. So our New Years are so untraditional. But we enjoy them though. : )

    Happy New Year to you and your wonderful family. : )

  3. Yeah, but after 11 years can you stomach nattō?! :-)

  4. Funny how it takes 11 years when we are older. I bet the kids already know all that stuff. But then you surely knew it at least a few years ago. I will have to read the archives.

    Congrats on making it eleven years as a (foreign) woman in the countryside of Japan!

    Here, all the men get together and have a party at the local meeting hall, get drunk and leave so the women can have their party. Only thing is, most of the women have to stay home and cook for their returning drunk husbands, so attendance is low.

    This year a friend and his son and I crashed the women's party and played the role of "companion" (host who laughs at their jokes and pours them drinks) None of the women would touch the booze - something that annoyed Tomoe now that she is weening Mona and has freedom to take a swig now and then. I am impressed with Tomoe's ability to live here, but she is always about to crack, and it has only been four years.

    You Amaze me.