A little belated but the sentiment remains the same.
Health and Happiness to one and all.
So here we are, the Year of the Mouse, I prefer it to be the Year of the Mouse than the Year of the Rat, I don’t think ‘rat’ really conjurs up a good image for anyone anywhere does it?
So New Year, Nippon style for me as always, and damn good it was too.
Too much mochi and too much crab nabe of course and the Year of the Mouse could see me going up a dress size but too bad, it was all delicious.
We went off to the outlaws place on the 31st and enjoyed fine vittals and of course watched some year end musical extravaganza variety show, which my MIL enjoys every year, though this year was disappointing ( for her) as many of her old favourites have now been replaced with young ‘Jannies’ boy band type performers, presumably cos some of the old favourite cannot wield their zimmerframes around the stage the size of the moon’s surface, or in some cases death had prevented them from agreeing to do the gig.
Around 11 pm we had the toshikoshi soba, which I can make any day of the week but never ever tastes quite as good as it does at the outlaws’ place on New Year’s Eve.
After soba, The Man, his Dad, two of my chicklets and myself put on approximately 10,000 dollars ( US) worth of Uniqlo fleeces to brave the biting cold and climb the mountain to the temple.
The first 108 people can get a ticket to ring the huge bell at midnight.
So we put our collective best feet forward and it was still only 11.30 when we approached the gazillion steep stone steps to the temple and The Man, bless him, told me, not for the first time, about how as a young school boy doing judo he and the rest of the team were forced to run up and down the same steps until they dropped dead. Bless him, he loves that story.
We were out of luck, all the numbers had gone, so The Man and his father decide to get some amazake, a sweet kind of sake they have at the temples in the winter.
I was waiting to the side of the line with my young son’s hand in mine, partly for safety and partly so I could leech all the warmth out of his bones, when a guy came up to me and asked me if I had been looking for a number to ring the bell. I said I had so he grabbed my arse and said to follow him, he was clearly quite drunk, so I was prepared to think it might have been an accidental arse grabbing, or simply wishful thinking on my part but as I started to follow him there it came again, quite delibrate and as it happens unwanted, and I decided that following him into a dark recess to get a ticket might not be a good idea, we did that once to change black market money in Shanghai and it did not end well.
The chanting began so Doris and I made our way to the bell. We were standing right behind the priests, and people came and went in front of them, chatting and sipping their sake and snapping pics and I was struck by the thought that I didn’t think the C of E would stand for that in the middle of prayers, but Hell, when in Rome…..
As we stood there someone came up and put a cup of hot sake in my ( 11 year old) daughter’s hand!!!! NO, I am sorry we cannot be that Roman, I send
her off to give it to her Grandfather.
The bell was rung, woohoo Happy New Year, Year of the Mouse, the usual feelings of hope and possibility for the coming year pop up, and I feel that 2008 will indeed be ‘my’ year, so much to accomplish and I never feel more like I can do it all than at the turn of the new year.
Making our way back through the crowds to the main area a jazz band is starting up. Live music, this is a first at our little stixville shrine, 5 guys freezing their rocks off in thin white shirts.
Now I don’t know jazz from my nose, were they a good jazz band, I do not know but I know they got us tapping our feet and my FIL and I even had a little dance together, causing Doris to have some kind of epileptic fit of embarrasment.
What if people SEE you?
Oh how quickly they forget how they enjoyed dancing in the supermarket.
How they would ‘Wizard of Oz ‘ skip down public thoroughfares with me.
Respects paid, New Year seen in, we began our descent, now against a tide of about a million people.
The kids want yakiimo from the guy with a truck at the bottom of the steps.
We pay a months salary for two hot potatoes. Experience tells me they will not eat it all, experience tells me one would have been enough, but now is not the time to be tight and hopefully I can warm my hands on some when
they get bored of it.
New Year’s Eve, Japan style. It was good, I enjoyed it, I liked my kids taking part in the tradition of it. I like that they will grow up and remember how they always went to the temple with their Father and Grandfather and will want their kids to do the same.
Happy New Year!