Old Christmas, New Year  

Tuesday, 30 December 2008

Christmas is done and dusted for another year, and despite my pre-Crimbo gloom, it turned out to be quite an enjoyable one. Perhaps prompted by a bit more explanation of the deeper meaning that Christmas carries with it for us gaijin, the wife made a big effort to make it a fun time for all of us. And indeed it was, despite the absence of that special Christmas Day feeling. It is totally unreasonable to expect that we will ever fully replicate the feeling of a “true” Christmas as far as I am concerned. Nevertheless, and as the missus pointed out, their family traditions are no less valid than mine. What I think of as a proper Christmas is just my opinion; that’s all. What I’ve always wanted is to try and bring a bit of extra magic and a bit of depth to their day. And I think it’s fair to say that this was achieved. Well, as much as can be expected anyway.

Now we are in the full throes of preparation for O-Shogatsu, the Japanese New Year. In contrast to Christmas, the Japanese take New Year very seriously indeed. The house has to be cleaned from top to bottom and all duties and obligations discharged by the end of the year, so that everyone can start the New Year afresh. It’s a nice thought and one that I am more than happy to go along with. It is customary to visit a Jinja (Shrine) to pray for good fortune in the coming year. In the past we have visited the massive Sensouji temple in Tokyo on New Year’s day. But it gets very crowded, so I think this year we’re going to sample the delights of our local jinja at the end of our street. They’re planning some special events so it looks like fun.

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