Monday, January 2, 2012

My New Year's Day

At midnight I had the Japanese noodles.  Each of the traditional foods you eat around New Year's has a meaning.  Noodles are for long life.

Then on New Year's day, went to my sister's for traditional New Year's Day soup.  New Year's is a bigger deal than Christmas in Japan. 

My brother-in-law (who is not Japanese) made the soup!  He is a better cook than my sister or me.  He learned to cook this by watching a program on YouTube called "Cooking with Dog".  No, the dog is not the ingredient.  There is this woman who demonstrates the cooking, but there is a cute dog who does all the talking.  Whatever, look it up... :)

Above is the traditional 'Osechi' ryori - the traditional foods you eat on New Year's.  My mother used to make these.  Now, we just buy the pre-packaged stuff at the grocers.

Clockwise from top left:

  • The white and orange strips - Kohaku-namasu.  These are radish and carrot strips pickled in a sweet vinegar, ponzu sauce.  This is auspicious because they are "red" and white, the colors of the rising sun symbol of Japan.
  • black beans - kuro-mame.  'Mame' means beans and also health in Japan.  These you eat for health in the new year.
  • The pink and white strip - Kamaboko - fish cake (also in the soup picture with the cute bamboo pattern).  This is also red and white - see above.
  • The yellowish substance - Kurikinton - sweetened chestnuts and sweet potatoes.  Symbolizes wealth and victory
  • The sardines at the bottom - Tazukuri - Symbolizes a rich harvest
  • The red stuff in the lower left corner - Some variety of fish Roe - symbolizing fertility.
  • Black wrapped seaweed - Konbu - Associated with the word "Yorokobu" which means joy.
  • The lotus roots in the middle - Renkon - Symbolizes hope and happiness because we can see through the holes to the future.
Then, we watched the traditional Japanese New Year's variety show (kind of like the New Year's Rocking Eve show in America).  We've watched it every year since we were little with our parents. I don't know who most of the people on the show are but it is cool to see what kind of music is popular in Japan these days.  Of course with all the disasters in Japan in 2011 a lot of the show was dedicated to telling stories of hope and survival. 
Anyway, here are the MCs of the event.  Recognize the guy 4th from the left?  He's a member of a very popular band in Japan (the rest of the guys are the other members).  But he's also an actor and was in the Clint Eastwood movie "Letters From Iwo Jima".  The 'baker-dude' my brother-in-law calls him.

His name is Kazunari Ninomiya and I had the opportunity to visit Japan and was part of an group that included him.  You never heard so many screaming girls and blinded by so many flash bulbs as when you were trying to walk from point A to point B in his presence.

Anyway, back to the show -- We watched the show with a friend who is bilingual and so she provided most of the translation and gossip about all the celebrities.  I don't know who anybody is anymore, except for this guy.  Go Hiromi.  He looks really good - he's fifty something.

This is what he looked like when he had his first hit.   (sigh) I guess we're all older these days.


I stayed to watch the show all the way through but was worried because I had to travel through the danger zone (across Colorado Blvd) to get home.  Luckily, I found a route that was not lined with marshmallow -tossing parade viewers. 

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