Fear Factor? No. It’s a New Year culinary celebration for us Japanese. Happy 2014, everyone. Wishing you a year filled with love, laughter, good health, and prosperity!
Happy New Year, everyone!
What’s so wonderful about being married to the most amazing guy in the world is joining the most amazing family. And with that comes an introduction to a cool new tradition.
The first morning of the year was spent at a Japanese temple in Downtown LA to receive the New Year’s blessings! Hatsumode, or the first shrine / temple visit of the year, was so refreshing as I haven’t done this since I was living in Japan! Visiting a temple on special days (like the New Year, and when people turn 20, etc.) is more of a cultural thing for us Japanese than a religious ritual.
Little Tokyo was packed with people, hoping for a fresh start of the year! After we gave the offerings (throwing money in a wooden box), we bought some Omamori for ourselves and the family, to protect us for another year.
After the temple, we all got together at the parents’ house for shabu shabu lunch. I think I ate too much too fast, because by the time we were done, I needed to head straight to the couch to lay down! I have to remember that my stomach is not as big as it once was before Pon Pon occupied the space, and I need to eat much slower to avoid this kind of situation!
After taking a nap for a good 30 minutes or so, Kevin and I left to head over to my parent’s house for Party #2! We weren’t able to join them for dinner (we were still way too full) but my mother packed a bunch of delicious traditional food for us to enjoy later. It was so wonderful to see them on the New Year’s day. It was a little strange to not be spending an entire day with with my folks like I did all my life, but there’s definitely a way to squeeze in double the fun, if there’s a will.
I am very excited for 2013. I know that this is going to be the best year yet.
There is a Japanese term kuidaore, which loosely means that you eat until the inevitable collapse. “Kui” means “to eat,” and “daore” is “to collapse.” I think the term originated in the streets of Osaka, a part of Japan where food is religion.
Anyway, that’s what I did today at home to celebrate the new year in a true Japanese fashion – indulge, surfeit and yes, ultimately collapse on my parents’ sofa!
One of the rituals that I look forward to every New Year’s day is a Japanese singing show called, “Kohaku Uta Gassen,” or simply “Kohaku,” that airs on New Year’s Eve (from about 7:00 p.m. to 11:45 p.m., giving 15 minutes for the countdown) on NHK, Japan’s equivalent of PBS.
The name of the show literally translates to “red and white (kohaku) song (uta) battle (gassen),” and female singers / groups (red team) and male singers / groups (white team) complete for the coveted winner’s flag. This is a way so many of Japanese families end the year and welcome the new one. I loved watching this as a child growing up in Japan, as it was a rare occasion that I got to stay up late and not get in trouble.
Since my fiancé and I were out on the New Year’s Eve (and we don’t even have TV), I watched the taped show at my parents’ house today. I skipped most of enka (old people songs) and just jumped to J-Pops and K-pops. Some of the Korean groups that made the appearance were pretty amazing. I must admit that most of Japanese groups can’t sing but they make up for it by the pure entertainment factors, with crazy costumes, lolita sex appeals, and extravagant dances. And speaking of outrageous costumes, Lady Gaga made a recorded performance as well, which I thought was pretty cool of her.
Passing down the torch … from the year of the rabbit to the year of the dragon! Job well done, bunny … well done.