大晦日・お正月 Into the new year!

In Japan,new year and everything around it is a great event. It starts with 大晦日 (Oomisoka) or what we would call New Year`s Eve. On the end of the year, it is tradition to hold a big cleaning of your house. Not only the cleaning, eating `toshikoshisoba` or buckwheat noodles also seems almost mandatory. The noodles are a symbol for long life or to cut with the past. These soba noodles are mostly accompanied with a kind of `tempura` (an art of frying) of shrimps and vegetables I think. It may differ from region to region but in every supermarket I went, they changed to normal `Tempura` with the new year version. Which I wasn`t so happy with since I don`t like shrimps so much but I ate it and it was ok~

   
   
Around midnight, we went to the `Tokyo Daibutsu`, or the Boeddha statue in Tokyo, which isn`t very famous nationally and internationally but is a very nice temple. There, we lined up with the rest of the Japanese to do the `初詣` (hatsumoude or the first visit to a shrine or temple of the year). It was cold but not unbearable because we did our preparations. Clock 12, the 除夜の鐘、(joya no kane), or new year`s eve bell, rang 108 times. It was very impressive to listen to and set the right atmosphere. Before midnight, there was a small countdown in the crowd.

   
    
   
We did our prayers 10 past midnight. And afterwards we went through the temple territory a bit. We also bought お守り (omamori) to protect us, or help us study.  I bought one to help my boyfriend with his job hunting activities an my boyfriend bought one for me to succeed in my studies.

On the way back, we got 甘酒 (amazake , I guess sweet sake?), a bit like Glühwein, for free at a a smaller shrine. Both me and my boyfriend wanted to try it but we both decided we didn`t like it very much. Before I forget! At the bigger temple, there were a lot of stands with pancakes, yakisoba, and some other Japanese festival food.

Back home we watched a music show but fell asleep pretty quickly. In the morning (it was midday already though) we made traditional Japanese New Year food.

Ours consisted of

  
Ozoni, a kind of soup with vegetables and mocha (rice balls, very sticky and every year there are elderly who die because of this. They should cut it smaller or leave it out maybe)

  
 osechi (assortiment of New Years food, we went for the favourites of my boyfriend, nishiki tamago (a kind of egg roulade), datemaki (sweet omelet with fish cake) and kurikinton (sweet potato and chestnut)

   
 Chikuzenni  (boiled vegetables ???)

  
Double Mochi dessert (one in red bean soup and one with kinako (toasted soybean flour according to google translate).

  
These are decorated in square boxes. We bought ours in the 100 yen shop, to create the atmosphere.

 

We ate from these for 2-3 days.

 

It was very weird for me though. Suddenly these new New Year items appeared in the super markets and especially on New Year`s Eve, there was a storm of Japanese buying it. There are some items which you can only buy this time of the year. And every Japanese eats it I guess, or at least some kind of osechi like me and my boyfriend.

In the evening we ate sashimi and the rest of the New Year food.

  

 We also watched the marathon held between different universities and schools while studying.

 

This was my New Year in Japan. I enjoyed it a lot, especially the food and the temple visit!

 

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