Unlike Christmas, I actually prefer New year in Japan rather than Australia. Drinking to excess then chucking up the kebab I had earlier along with the rest of the population in one big vomiting session is not really my idea of fun, although I'll take the kebab... And drink to excess any other night of the year... But for me, New year always has big expectations and usually turns out to be a big hung over disappointment. Hang on, I think I just described my life...
Of course I'd much rather something in the middle, less pressure than pissed up Australian New Year and more excitement than Japanese new year, which is usually spent eating copious amounts of (shit) food and hibernating under the kotatsu, only crawling out to rug up and go to the local shrine to ring the bell, get free booze and pray for a better year than last.
I wasn't too worried about the boredom factor this year, since I've started working, hibernating under the kotatsu actually was appealing and I lazed away pretty much every day I had off. On new year's eve, I got a slight twinge of desire to go out on the piss and actually went as far as to buy a bottle of champagne, it was from the supermarket though so obviously wasn't getting that excited. I'd planned to make spaghetti for dinner but Ryota informed me that he was in fact a Japanese boy, and would in fact eat the 'toshi koshi soba' which is supposed to bring you good luck for the next year or some bullshit. I really don't like soba and in a little stubborn display said I didn't want any. Grandma then informed me that I had to eat it or I'd have a crappy year but I told her to go shove it (in a nice way) and I'd take the risk. So Ryota had his soba, I had... possibly nothing actually! And then as it got closer to midnight I toyed with the idea of polishing off the bottle of gin on our shelf but thought better of it and watched some crappy new year telly.
At 5 to midnight Ryota was fucking around with something on the computer, Grandma was getting her PJ's on, MIL was new year texting and SIL was upstairs "celebrating" with the dog. Poor little Ash was the genkiest of all of us and still running around like a little mental person. As the countdown got closer and nobody paid any attention to the time I panicked a bit that we were going to miss the clock striking midnight and barked at Grandma to change the channel to a station that was actually counting down. We may have actually missed it because when she flicked they were already donging the bells at the temple, nobody really moved so as usual I got in to the spirit right at the last second (literally) and gave Ash a big smooch and a happy new year. We finally popped the champagne and after 2 sips Ryota had the red face and drunk eyes going and had to give his to me, I'd already swigged mine down and welcomed his share too, meaning in the space of about 5 minutes I actually got quite pissed, I think I ended up downing the remainder of the bottle without bothering with a glass... All class is me...
And that was pretty much the most exciting it got, we'd reserved a New Year's shag but the champagne knocked me out and I was in no shagging state, had a very peaceful sleep though!
New year's day was a lovely sunny day, still bastard cold mind you, but the bearable kind of freezing. I went for a run and smiled at the families, complete with father for once, making their way to the local shrine for a bit of a pray. We had another pretty much chilled out day and then went to Grandma's for osechi dinner on the night. I fuckin hate osechi, it's basically big boxes of cold, pickled Japanese crap that old people love. This year was a bit better as MIL had ordered a box of Japanese, box of Chinese style osechi and even a western one for the whitie! I picked at bits of pieces, and the western one actually had something that resembled a pork pie, and stuffed olives, brilliant! I'd made a pretty damn good garlic and prawn spaghetti too, which disappeared quite quickly, I think even Grandma enjoyed a bit of oil and grease to wash down all the healthy crap.
My biggest gourmet achievment this new year had to be my caramel slice though! I hate cooking with some what of a passion, but baking is a different story, love it! I rarely have enough time to enjoy baking properly though, so this week was perfect, I made Anzac biscuits as well, which were awesome but I think oats and golden syrup were way too foreign for poor old Ryochan, he couldn't handle it.
But back to my caramel slice, after I'd made it, I weighed up my options on what to do with it, I could either: 1) Take it to Grandma's and share it with them 2) Take it to FIL's on the 2nd and share it with them, or 3) Keep it at home and scoff it all ourselves. Now number 3 isn't the best for my dieting, FIL was sure to turn his nose up at the foreign-ness of it and plus I couldn't just nip over to his house to steal some, so that left the option of sharing with Grandma's lot. I had actually sworn off making anything for those bastards as they usually don't like it or say they do but then subtly give it back or get rid of it some how. So I was cautious and expecting the worst when I took it over the dirt path to their house. Grandma started sniffing around as soon as she saw I'd brought something over. I cut her the tiniest piece to try, as caramel slice can be sickly in big amounts and braced myself for the "うわぁぁぁ、甘いね！" (Ewwww, so sweet!) that usually follows, but to my shock and delight, she paused, a bit shocked herself I think, clicked her tongue a few times really getting the flavour and then... Grabbed another bit! Fucking love you Grandma! Sometimes...
She then said it was actually really good, now if Grandma gives her approval it must be good, the old bird is a pretty tough critic. I was well chuffed and even more so when MIL, Ryota and BIL all dug in and agreed on the awesomeness of it. SIL gave her approval as well, and even asked me for the recipe, I must admit I was a bit smug when I informed her that two of the ingredients weren't available in Japan and you needed secret gaijin black market connections to get them (OK my mum, but still).
So, like Christmas, New year turned out pretty dull but not so bad, here's hoping that is a good prediction for 2011, I could do with a year with no big surprises!