Thursday, December 31, 2009

From 2009 to 2010

In a few more hours, we'll be entering a new decade. A new decade with newfound friendships and new perspectives. A decade which will hopefully, bring us closer to self actualisation.

In a few more hours, we'll start the countdown to 2010. We'll usher in the new year, and at the same time, celebrate Oshogatsu - the Japanese new year - not in Japan but Singapore.

Since our 1-year experience in Japan, life seems to be never quite the same again. Now, there are 2 meanings to the 1st of Jan - 1) the new year that we've always known and celebrated, the new year eve that says Auld Lang Syne, countdown etc and 2) the Japanese new year with its own meaning and traditions.

Last year, at this time, we were still enjoying ourselves at a bonenkai, organised by Wada-san. We had a scrumptious spread of Japanese Oshogatsu must-eats (including the most delicious oden), indulged in bottles of sake, shochu and cans of beer, and when the clock struck 12 we tucked into Toshikoshi Soba, a symbol of longevity. To mark the new year (also to digest the very heavy dinner), we took a walk in the cold winter to Owase Jinja, where a range of festivities took place. There, we prayed for a good year, drank amazake, sought protection from the cold with a man-made fire and got omikujis (paper fortunes). That took place exactly one year ago. I can still remember Wada-san saying that if you could dream of either a sunrise or Japanese cranes you can expect a great year ahead. He must be busy cooking for his family and the Ikedas right now.

Now, as we're back in Singapore, we will welcome the new year in our own way. Earlier today, we bought Osechi Ryori and other Oshogatsu ingredients from a Japanese supermarket. At 12am, we will make Toshikoshi Soba, and enjoy our favourite Yaa Yaa sake, flown in from Owase with the help of Izumi and Pika. We also have mochi that Ura-san bought us from Japan that we'll savour, in true Japanese fashion.

The year of 2009 has been a memorable one. First year of marriage, 8 months in Japan, 4 months in Singapore, many new friends, and lots of beautiful memories. As we reminisce the past year, we're also looking forward to 2010, and the joys it will bring.

To our friends in Owase, if you are reading this, this is our message to you.
あけましておめでとう。来年もよろしく!みんなさんがいなくて寂しかったです。近いうちにまた会いましょう。

To everyone else, Best wishes for the new year and let's all embrace the decade ahead!