Sunday, 1 January 2012

Grumpy New Year

Have to laugh.

All the preparations for HAPPY New Year dinner as a nice, little family....

And....wait for it....Okaasan was a fug and didn't want to eat anything!

Yo ho HO! Please give a large bottle of rum.

New Year is a big deal in Japan. It's the time when families come together, even if they don't want to. There is special food, special Tv and first shrine visits, and special greeting cards etc etc.

We planned that Yujiro would be away skiing during the day, but late afternoon I'd take the train 30 mins along the coast to meet him, and then I'd drive back home, where our packs of instant buckwheat noodles (which Yujiro swears are just as good as the real thing), and a $100 box of traditional food would have been delivered by the supermarket.
We'd sit and enjoy all the food and drink some wine and toast another year together, and then retire to our living rooms to slump in front of the tacky TV singing show that dominates the airwaves every year.

So I fed Okaasan and chatted to her at lunchtime and set out to meet an old student for a coffee before catching the train. I put the instant noodle packs in the kitchen all ready to use, and left a note for the food delivery guy.
Okaasan had suddenly cottoned on to the fact that New Year = House Cleaning  and was frantically scrubbing the carpet with rolled up bits of newspaper. I gave her the vacumn cleaner, explained how to use it and left her happily vacumning her room.
A few misgivings about that. Would she trip over the cord and kill herself on the table corner? Would she get frustrated with not being able to remember how to switch the cleaner off?
But anyway. Left her to it.

Coffee. Train trip. 30 mins. pacing up and down in a cold, tiny, village station waiting for Yujiro to finish work. Back to the ski school. etc etc. Finally, 6 pm we headed home. Took the expressway to make sure of getting there.

Burst in through the kitchen door just before 7 pm ready to do the whole Happy New Year dinner thing.

Large box of New Year food ready and waiting!

One pack of noodles was missing...
Okaasan had eaten it.

Her face looked all crumpled up and her eyes were squinty, she was clutching her side: "My side hurts, inside hurts. I don't want to eat anything. The noodles? Yes, I ate those at lunchtime (already fogotten tofu lunch with me), cleaning? No, I didn't do any cleaning. I feel bad. I don't want to eat. Maybe a little rice. My side hurts. I feel bad. Rice? No, I don't want to eat anything...."

And on and on.
Finally WE ate a lot of the boxed foods, plus Okaasan's soup and half the rice. And drank all the wine. She sat with us at the kitchen table and looked at the glorious arrangement above.

But didn't eat any of it.

30 minutes later we all retired to our living rooms. Okaasan fell asleep in front of the Shopping Channel and we slumped in front of the singing show....with wine and cheese and chocolate.

What on earth happened to Okaasan during the 5 hours I was away?
Did she trip and fall  over the vacumn cleaner cord and hit herself? Did she get frustrated with trying to turn it off? Did she think we WEREN'T coming back and had left only instant noodles for her New Year dinner alone?

What? Could have been any of that. Or nothing at all.
At 1.30 pm she was fine. At 7 pm she was all gloom and doom, complete face difference. Voice difference.
So. All that train trip and driving and food ordering....for not a lot. I didn't mind whether Yujiro came back for Dec. 31st night or not. I'm beyond that. Happy with the TV and some chocolate me. We made all that Must-come-back effort to give Okaasan a good feeling!

Not her fault of course....but ...agggghhhhhhhhhh!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

By 9.30 pm we were in bed....and that was 2011 for us.

Up at 6 am today January 1 2012 and drove BACK to the ski area. He had all day work and I used a discount ski pass and had 3 glorious hours in almost deserted courses to enjoy myself!!!

First sunrise of 2012...a special thing in Japan.

Arrival at Kiroro.

First run of 2012!!!!

The mountains! The sea! The snow!


Ringing in lots of good luck for New Year.

MY lunch. a bowl fo rice, topped with salmon flakes and roe.


Left Yujiro up there to work and stay a further two nights. I came home to find Sapporo looking like almost any other day of the year, shops open and people rushing around. Hell, even our local supermarket was open?
This just isn't right. It's January 1st. EVERYONE....well apart from emergency workers, train drivers, ski teachers, hotel staff serving yummy salon roe...should have the day off....

Came home a little fearful. What state would Okaasan be in? Crawling around rubbing bits of newspaper on every surface and howling at the new sunrise?
She was sleeping and the remains of the New Year food box lunch were around the kitchen. So she'd eaten.

I've just been in to chat to her...and she still has the pain, just under her right breast (a fall and a bruised rib maybe?), I asked her to lift up her pajamas and show Oyomesan-world-medical-expert her right breast.... I can't see anything apart from the red area where she keeps rubbing it....I made her a cup of tea and delivered her one and only New Year card.

She says she wants dinner. I'd better start checking the cooking books about how to make Ozoni, the traditional New Year soup with rice cakes in it.

Onwards, onwards into 2012 and all the mayhem that will hold.

This is our New Year card for 2012. Designed by the son of my student, who did last year too. Dragon year. But can't show it to Okaasan...the way she is clutching onto my ample thighs isn't so great!!!!


  1. Hahaha, that is one awesome card!

  2. What an amazing way to start the new year! That snow looks perfect. As does the card! Have a good year.

  3. I was going to write something about how shit it must have been coming home - but then I saw the pics of snow and thought wow, thats beautiful, and whatever it is with okassan at least she can't remember and you tire dour utmost.

    New Years card is AWESOME.

    The sechi ryori looked yummy. i spent the best part of four hours over two days looking at that kind of stuff -and flagged it in the end. And, as a result, have had to COOK three meals a day for the last six days. Not impressed.