|January 1, 2013||Posted by peach_ under Life|
Happy New Year!
How are you feeling on the first day of 2013? I love New Year’s Day, not only as a day of celebration, but also as a way to reflect, freshen my mind, and feel a renewed surge of motivation and optimism for the whole year ahead. Year after year, I wish for time to slow down. 2012 seemed to have passed way too quickly, so I hope to “live in the moment” and savor my way through 2013.
In Japan, we’re on Day 4 of a 9-day New Year holiday, the longest we’ve had in a while! Today is very much a family day as Christmas is in many countries, and we followed our usual Japanese New Year traditions, like visiting our local Buddhist temple and Shinto shrine and eating New Year food. Simple.
I didn’t take many photos (see last year’s post — New Year activities remain the same this year!) but I did capture a few with my iPhone and tried my hand at some photo filters: a rarity as I shunned them in 2012.
Holly? On New Year’s? Japanese holly nanten is auspicious because its pronunciation is similar to the phrase meaning “turning difficulties into fortune.” Shown next to it is one of my cactuses that keep growing up and up; I have another one of the same kind that is only about a foot away from the ceiling.
I drew omikuji fortune drawing at the shrine. The gold bird charm was included with the fortune reading and represents increased luck. I really needed that because…
…I drew 末吉 sue-kichi, which means “uncertain luck” or “future luck” this year. In 2012, I drew the best possible outcome so perhaps I had used up all the luck I had last year. Still, it’s not the worst possible outcome and if you draw less than the best, it means there is room for growth and improvement!
And what’s New Year’s without otoshidama red envelopes, a.k.a. cold hard cash? I say Asians are practical and realistic in their gift-giving. I keep thinking I’m getting too old for receiving these (and perhaps entering the age I will be giving these to the young ones) but it would be impolite to refuse gifts, no?
Traditionally, cooking with fire is taboo on NYD and “cold” foods called osechi-ryori are eaten during this day. My family has never liked a full osechi meal (it doesn’t taste very good, especially if you don’t like sweet, cold dishes) so we opted for part-osechi (shown on top) and part modern. I ate mochi-in-soup, the main NYD food, before I could photograph it. Oops.
Each part of osechi stands for something; for example, beans represent working diligently and lotus roots mean having a clear path to the future because of their holes.
The modern part, of course, was sushi and oysters! Oo-toro, the fattiest part of tuna, was divine; I’ve definitely been spoiled by fresh toro that I haven’t been able to enjoy regular red tuna sushi/sashimi in years, and refuse to order it myself. The oysters were sent from Hokkaido, the northern part of Japan, and were as big as my hands and delicious. I never take trips to the US without having oysters (possibly one of my favorite foods there, especially in California), but they are tiny in comparison as these are probably the biggest and best I’ve had in a long time. I’m a happy peach.
I hope you enjoyed my tidbit about the day. How are/did you spend the day? I’m going to sign off with a typical Japanese New Year greeting, which translates to:
Happy New Year and I look forward to our continued relationship this year.