Wednesday, January 7, 2015

More on New Years

In the previous post, I gave a very condensed and simplified version of what goes on during New Year's in Japan. 

To continue on that theme, I want to say a little about the enjoyability of New Years.

If you are vacationing in Japan, and have a ton of money to spend or if you have Japanese friends to spend the holiday with, you'll probably have a pretty good time. Japanese friends or their family will show you what a true Japanese New Year is like: You'll probably be treated to a New Year meal (o-setchi) and when you are taken to the temple, they'll probably explain what you should pray for, how to pray and what various things represent. 

If you have a lot of money, and friends to spend the New Year with, you'll probably have fun. There are sales! Things to be bought! And, things are usually funner in a group of like-minded friends.

Now, if you don't fit into any of those two groups, and you haven't bought your ticket home, your holiday will probably suck hairy balls.

O-setchi? Uh, sure. Since I can't make it, let me just order a $50 (cheapest, if you're lucky) ready-made one and pick it up at 7-11. Now that I've got this, let me just google what each food represents. Or not. Because what meaning is there in that?

Going to a temple at midnight? Cool. Let me just, line my foreign ass up, standing out like a sore thumb and do my little thing at the temple. What, uh, thing is this temple for? Am I bowing correctly? Why do they give me sake? I guess I'll add that to my list of things to google when I get back to my empty apartment.

Now it's January 1. Wanted to wake up at 5am to get showered so I could get to Starbucks and get their fukubukuro; woke up at 10:30. That's ok, I'll still go out and oh. Well. It's all families who have coordinated their fukubukuro attack, like a bunch of New Year's Day Black Friday planners. Call up Japanese friends to hang out? Nope. Not gonna happen. They are with their families, and calling them to hang would be like calling someone during Thanksgiving dinner to go see a movie.

There's probably a way to chill with people but I don't know any Japanese people who aren't married, like karaoke, and who are really laid back. So, for someone like me, New Years is a week spent in virtual isolation. Society moves around me. I talk to shopkeepers and people I really don't want to talk to. After a while, I forget how to use my voice. My reality and dreams melt into one and I type posts with my thoughts. 

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