Tetsu's New Year holidays started on the 31 and we made a stop at our friends' farm to pick up our New Year's supply of omochi (pounded rice). In most Japanese families, the new year can't start without omochi (Tetsu even sent some to Takumi as a "Christmas present".) Our friends were busily doing end of the year chores such as washing windows and screens, making pickles for the holidays, cleaning the house front porch. I love this picture of Daddy and his little girl scrubbing away. And a few minutes later the little girl was helping grandma cut up vegetables for their pickles.
We went directly to Tetsu's mother's house and split the very large slab of omochi with her (and she will split it further with Tetsu's sister.... our friends gave us a lot of omochi!) and then we did our grocery shopping. I'm ashamed to admit that I do as little cooking as possible during New Years and so we picked up supermarket noodles, supermarket tempura, supermarket New Year's food... bean paste, seaweed, soy powder, and a lot of nibbles. Real Japanese families will have tiers of traditional New Year's food each with a special meaning (eat lots of caramelized small fish if you want many future generations. Make sure your potatoes are cut in hexagons so that they will look like a tortoise shell back... long life you know...) but Tetsu and I choose simple and easy to eat.
Finished up writing our New Year's cards... Tetsu uses a brush-pen so that he can do Japanese calligraphy.
Yesterday, (January 1st) the Japanese tradition is to go to the local shrine on New Year's day, Japanese churches offer a New Year's service for the Christians so Tetsu and I started off the year in prayer and rejoicing with our brothers and sisters in Christ.
In the afternoon we got a little late Christmas shopping in and Tetsu bought me a new handbag and some tennis shoes. So different from New Year's 30 years ago when the whole country closed down for three days. Nowadays supermarkets are open and stores are giving a big blowout sale. I guess I prefer looking at sales rather than sitting in front of the TV. Tetsu probably prefers the latter...
And we ended the day with a hot spa bath!