Happy New Year!

Posted on Saturday, January 01, 2011 | 0 comments

       New Year's Day in Japan is akin to Christmas in the Western world....time is spent visiting relatives, as opposed to partying with friends and drinking. Not that drinking doesn't occur here, too, but usually in a much quieter manner.
  On New Year's Eve night, most people stay in, watch some holiday tv shows, and maybe go to their local temple at midnight. For dinner, they traditionally eat toshikoshi soba, which basically translates to 'passing from one year to another' soba. The exact recipe varies by household, but the noodles are often topped with shrimp tempura or 'kaki age', a tempura patty that's a mix of vegetables and seafood.   
  We wanted to have our toshikoshi soba for lunch instead of dinner, but it almost didn't happen at all. Upon arrival, we discovered that the local grocery store had jacked its tempura prices from around 150 yen per piece to 280 yen! Now, I love tempura, but I'm not about to pay over 3 USD for a piece of fried shrimp! Apparently nobody else minded the extortion, seeing as there was quite a crowd around the fried foods section. However, the logical part of my brain simply balked at the price.
  Luckily, a nearby yakitori (grilled chicken) shop also happens to sell a small selection of tempura at much more reasonable prices, so our meal was saved. I'm still figuring out how to take decent pictures of steaming-hot food, but I posted a picture below anyway.
  Finally, there is one thing in common between the Far East and the West around New Year's Day: sales!!! Keila has been making out like a bandit, seeing as I simply cannot resist all the cute baby clothes on markdown right now. She's already happily soiled 2 new outfits in as many days. This morning, she gave a great big honking welcome to the year of the rabbit, so big that I'll have to post pics of her new bunny outfit after it's been washed!

                                                Toshikoshi soba

                                                New Year's Decor

                                                       One of our recent purchases

                                                      Rrrroar! (In Japanese: Gao Gao!)

Enter the year of the rabbit!