Happy New Year in Japan

The year, 2014. The place, Shimane. As you’d expect it I was here because of a dame. Three actually. My wife and my three girls. The day was New Years or osougetsu as they call it here. We come to the same place every year. It’s tradition. There were no wild parties as you’d expect back home. New Years eve was as quiet as a mouse living with a crazy cat woman. In the big cities you could find something and the foreigners always huddled together with a sparkling remembering the old country. We weren’t in the big smoke though. Outside was nothing but cold and blistering wind.

We sat in watching the NHK New Year’s concert. They played all the hits of the year along with a bunch of oldies. Come 11 we had the traditional soba and sake. You’re meant to think about longevity when you were eating it. Me I was thinking about that guy that wears a black great coat white make up and claims he’s a one thousand year old devil. I guess that counts as thinking of longevity.

Jiji came as joined us after we ate all the soba missing out on his own. He wasn’t pleased about it. He joined us in front of the TV though quickly getting frustrated that he didn’t know any of the songs. I guess I can understand what that’s like. After all i don’t know any of the songs. When Jiji gets grumpy it kills the mood pretty fast. We all ended up retreating to bed before twelve. Usually we’d go to the shrine to ring the bell for the new year. It suited me fine. It was too cold outside and I was already in my pajamas.

The next day, 2015, we woke up to a cup of sake and pippy soup with rice cake in it. Since we didn’t make it down to the shrine at midnight we went in the morning. It’d been snowing for a few hours now but we thought it’d be OK. The wind was fierce blowing snow in our face making visibility difficult. We fought on to get to the shrine. We were rewarded with more sake and a bowl of soup. You know it’s fierce when they’re giving out soup. I felt like some vagrant begging at a church.  It’s true what they say. Soup  is at it’s best when you’re freezing your balls off. We went round to the all the shrines. Usually i clap and don’t think anything. Just stand there with my head bowed. This time though. Well maybe it was the cold but I asked whatever gods were at those shrines if they’d get people around the world to do something about climate change. While I was at it I asked the fox god to get rich people to spend the their money on making the world a better place for other people, not just themselves. I shrugged my shoulders doubting anything would happen. The wind picked up making it a frozen hell for us getting back. Our daughter couldn’t handle it and started screaming. We got back to the place as quick as we could. She was still screaming for a good ten minutes once inside as we desperately warmed her up.

Happy New Year



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