Monday, January 7, 2013

Happy New Year!

Happy New Year of the snake!  
Today is the last day of my winter vacation.  How was your Holidays?  I had a great time with my family and friends.  In recent years, I had been away from home, working or travelling abroad, during the New Year season.  But this year, I decided to stay in Japan and spend this time of the year with my family and follow all the traditions that we have.  

On December 30th, we had our parents' 60th anniversary dinner at a nice restaurant.  My sister found that place and told me I would like it, and of course, my parents would have a good time.  She was right.  The restaurant was called Ukai-Tei, and the guests are guided into a private booth with a huge cast-iron hot plate, and a chef comes to each booth to cook for them in front of their eyes.  Sounds cool, right?  We were lucky to have a chef who is almost same age as my parents in our booth.  He was very skilled, cheerful, and entertaining.  The food was just amazing!  That dinner was for mom and dad, but I might have been the one who enjoyed the party the most ;)  Well, it was great to see my parents enjoying the gathering.  

On New Year's Eve, R and I went to the temple to see people hit the gong 108 times at midnight, we ended up lining up with other people to hit the huge bell. It is a tradition for Japanese people to ring this gong for 108 times on New Year's Eve to purify the past years sins.  (It is said that each person has 108 sins.  Yes, we are sinful people!!)  The gong at the temple looked like this.
You can see people lining up on the right.  Each one hit the gong once and pray for the good luck for the coming year.  I've heard the sound of the gong from the near-by temple in the past, but this was the first time for me to actually hit it by myself.  It was quick, but fun :)

The year-end and the New Year must have been the busiest cooking days for my mom.  She cooked a lot of food really nicely from osechi, Japanese traditional New Year's Day cuisine, to meat loaves.  We had my sister and her husband over, and we also invited R for the first time to a family gathering, and had a feast.  My sister played a nice role of being an entertainer, which I believe it was natural of her from being tipsy and happy.  Even my cranky dad looked happy to have all the family members (+1) at the same table.  Oh, and January 1st is my mom's birthday as well!  This year, six people sang happy birthday for her.

This year will be a challenging year for me.  I'm going to change my job and finally move out from my parents' place.  Yesterday, I went to the real estate agency with R to find an apartment.  I found one and have started the contracting process today.  I'm very nervous about this because I have never lived alone in Japan.  I'm sure I can take care of myself, but I have little idea about what I have to be careful to choose the place.  But at the same time, it is exciting to start something new and gain some independence.  If I really don't like the new apartment, it's not the end of the world.  I will move out :)

Today was the first day of my tutoring this year.  I have to quit this tutoring at the end of February due to my moving.  Luckily, the tutoring office has found another teacher who takes over my lessons.  My student is such a nice boy, so I hope he will get along well with the new teacher.  

Tomorrow, I'm going to be back to my regular shifts.  The New Year's resolution is, "Stay healthy and work hard!"

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