Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Not half the story - the New Year in Japan

Happy New Year, and welcome to a post that isn't ABOUT New Year's!

Look, I wanted to write about Oshougatsu (お正月) in Japan - the New Year's Day - but there's just too much to say. It's a major, MAJOR holiday here, steeped in rituals old and new that begin weeks in advance and don't end until half a month later. You eat special food for good luck, you clean your house from top to bottom, you visit a shrine after watching the clock tick up to midnight and then spend the first day of the year drinking sake and exchanging your old charms and talismans for new ones. And, you watch music specials while you wait for the new year. There's also the year end lottery, and the crucial custom of writing New Year's postcards to absolutely everyone you know, and those who time it right can expect them to be delivered on January 1 in one fell swoop. It's intense.

Me? I ate soba for dinner, then a friend came over, and we sniped, opined, watched TV, read manga, and drank tea until we were both nearly asleep. Then, another friend stopped by. 2008 went out, 2009 came in, and I politely ushered them out as quickly as possible, because I'm not a night person. The second friend went out for hatsumoude (初詣), the year's first visit to a shrine. The first either joined her or went to bed. Either way, I was out cold by then.

Well, look at that, I wrote about it after all. I guess my non-New Year's post will have to wait for a true non-New Year's Day.

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