The Calico Quilter asked me what Japanese do for New Year's since I said that as I foreigner I didn't do it the way everyone else does. Well, let's see...
The first couple of years after we were married it seemed like the New Year's holidays were the major times Tetsu and I would get into disagreements. I think I walked out on him one year and went to stay with a friend!
Tetsu is and always has been so busy and the New Year's holidays are the only days he has three consecutive days of holiday so as a new wife I expected him to spend some time with me. But what did we do? We sat around and watched TV. And dumb TV at that! Starting around 9:00 on New Year's Eve, Japan broadcasts nationally, a singing competition with the major singers of the year. Men's team versus women's team; red and white. When I first came to Japan the Japanese music world was filled with smokey drinking songs (Enka) and cutsie Barbie Doll songs (Aidoru which means "idol") and a lot of the singers went through crazy choreographed dances while they warbled. (And Enka can really warble! I remember my father saying it sounded like someone was strangling a cat!) The sets were always amazing but sometimes I got the feeling that the talent on stage didn't do the stage sets justice!
I did not like this singing program at all (and still don't care for it much, and yes, it still is the main event every New Year's Eve for three hours) but Tetsu and his mother were glued to the TV. The next morning too the TV went on and we were treated to three days of slapjack comedy and comedians. If any of you know a second language you'll know that humor is the last thing to come when learning a language and these comedians drove me crazy and I felt very left out because Tetsu and his mother would slap the table and laugh uproariously! Or when the TV commercials got long they would nap. Or eat oranges and omochi. For three days. In those days Japan basically closed down for three days, no stores open, not a car on the roads. No where to go and nothing to do but watch TV. I was a raving lunatic by the end of the New Year's and Tetsu can testify to that!!!
"What is the traditional way to celebrate New Year's,Tetsu? Let's do that."
"Well, they drink a lot of sake but I don't drink, and they go to the shrine at midnight but we're Christian, and they eat omochi. That's what we're doing. Mostly people just watch TV."
"There must be something else because Japan hasn't always had TV."
"The kids go outside and play with tops... Or they fly kites... You want to fly a kite when it is freezing outside? Or they play a sort of badminton with wooden mallets and a peg. It doesn't fly as well as regular badminton. I don't think you'd like it... People used to play a kind of card game matching ancient Japanese poems from memory but since you don't know the poems and can't read the Japanese..."
So we watched TV and I was so glad when the holidays were over! I didn't quilt back then so I had nothing to do with all that time!
Nowadays Tetsu is still watching the TV but he prefers to watch K-1 (like boxing) on New Year's Eve which I despise so it is agreed I can go read a book early on in the evening. When Tetsu is home during the holidays, like yesterday, he still watches TV but I can appreciate the humor a bit more and I use the time to quilt. Yes! I was quilting yesterday! Over the years we've come to a good balance and he can see when I'm getting a bit irritated by the whole thing. The convenience stores are open, the regular stores open on Jan. 2 and so we can go shopping or eat out or do other things beside get cabin fever. And of course there's blogging! So Tetsu's watching TV right now while I am blogging. A very good solution this year!
That's my New Year's...
(pictures from the Internet)