Happy New Year
At church on Sunday one of my students, Ayumi, asked me what my plans were for the evening. I said I had no plans. She looked at me in shock and pity and quickly asked her parents if I could come over to celebrate the new year with them. New Years is probably the most important holiday to the Japanese, whereas in my family its not a huge deal at all-- my mom's birthday is January 1, so we celebrate that, but we usually go to bed around 10PM the night before! Pretty boring. But this New Years I did all the traditional Japanese stuff: I ate "soba" (traditional buckwheat noodles) and tempura shrimp, sashimi (raw pieces of fish-- so tasty!), sweet black beans, vegetables in vinegar (I didn't care for those so much), and some rice with other grains cooked into it. It was delicious. Then we watched the "kohaku" on TV. In Japan every New Years Eve there is a singing contest on television that lasts until 15 minutes before midnight. There are two teams-- red (women) and white (men), composed of all the famous singers in Japan. They take turns singing and performing and at the end of the program the audience (a bunch of famous actors and stuff-- like the oscars) and people at home (from their cell phones) vote for which team they want to win. It was really fun to watch all the groups perform. Some of them performed a traditional style of singing called "enka," and others were pop groups. The white team won. I was bummed. I wanted the girls to win. Then after the program is over the broadcast switches to the Tokyo Dome for a countdown with more singing groups (most of which sound a little too much like nsync for my tastes). By midnight I was so tired, because I normally go to bed at 10:30 or 11, so Ayumi's mom took me home.

New Year's Day I went with my friend Joe to three shrines. This is also a Japanese custom-- you go to three shrines to pray, put money in the temple, and buy lucky charms to put in your house and your car. I, of course, did no praying or buying of charms, but I did get to see a lot of cool temples and fight through the swarms of people taking their children and their dogs to be blessed by the Shinto priest!! There were also booths with some great festival foods-- fried meat on a stick, fried doughy balls of squid (takoyaki), fried dough with sweet bean paste in the middle, candied apples, french fries, crepe filled with chocolate and whipped cream, green tea ice cream cones, etc. Joe and I each had a sweet bean fried thinger.
written by Ruthie @ 10:29 PM  
3 thoughts:
  • At 1/02/2007 1:23 PM, Blogger M. Leary said…

    I am still recuperating after staying up until almost 2 on New Year's eve! Having a 3.5 month old doesn't help.

    Sounds like some yummy food though!

    Shayna (using Mike's computer)

  • At 1/02/2007 3:34 PM, Anonymous wynia said…

    wow, way different and more colorful than my New Year's spent watching a movie and chillin' in my parents' basement :)

  • At 1/02/2007 5:01 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Ruf, I love your perspective and your stories. I miss you unbelievably. We must talk soon! Love you lots!!!

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Name: Ruthie
Home: Japan
About Me: I want to know who God is and what his truth is. I love getting lost in beautiful music and cloudless star-filled skies, especially in the fall. I hate being bored. I like big cities. I want to travel the world.
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