Saturday, December 31, 2005

How We Spent New Year's Eve in Japan

An exciting new country, new customs, and a New Year! You may think that we took advantage of the myriad of cultural opportunities at our doorstep. If so, perhaps you have not met us. We are your typical introverted computer geeks (who were blessed enough to develop enough social skills to meet each other, date, and get married).

Since the entire country has time off during the New Year's season, Dan has been at home since Thursday. He was glad to get the vacation since he has been
working hard since we arrived in November. We thought that we would take this opportunity to visit some of the museums around Tokyo. So, instead of going directly to the Tokyo Edo Museum, we first researched it on the internet. Turns out it is closed over the holiday (December 29 - Jan 3). Further research led us to realize that all museums are closed right now. Ok, so that plan didn't work out.

So, we decided that the best course of action would be to play with our
Christmas gifts, Sims 2 and Sim City 4. Three days later, we are still amused by the games. However, we did take a break last night, New Year's Eve, to determine if there was some sort of celebration that we should attend.

Once again we used the power of the internet to determine that the typical 'celebration' of the New Year is to spend the evening with your family somberly reflecting. We turned on the TV to see if there was the equivalent "Dick Clark's Rocking Eve" party here, but only found a concert featuring Handel's Messiah, a
channel that showed cartoons, a variety show of some sort, and an interesting sort of fighting show. We think that it was kick boxing. The fighter's outfits cracked us up:

Also while watching TV, we saw what may be the funniest Japanese commercial so far (Dan calls it, "this side of bizarre"). It looked like a normal kitty treat commercial. There was a cute cat eating treats. Then, it switched to a line diagram of a cat. The kitty treats went in through the mouth of the kitty diagram, moved around in the stomach part of the diagram, collecting all of the line diagram fur, then promptly exited in a compact ball.

After checking out the TV, we returned to our Sim Games. At about 7:40pm, I decided that it was time to get some fresh air and ice cream. So we left our apartment. Dan wanted to go to the nearby shrine to see if it had lots of people or not. We walked up the block and determined that no, our nearby shrine was not the popular place to hang out. Everyone must be at home being somber with their families. Then we continued on to the store to get ice cream. However, the
store was closed (like all of the museums). Other stores were also in the process of closing early, so we ducked into the Family Mart convenience store to grab our tiny individual ice creams. Haagen Dazs is very popular here. However, the individually-sized containers are quite small (good for portion control). To help you understand, here is my tiny ice cream shown next to a quarter (yes, an American quarter, they don't have Japanese quarters):

We finished our ice creams, then once again returned to our Sim Games. It is worth mentioning that it took a little while for us to convince the Sims 2 to install in English instead of Japanese. We had to combine our geekiness and figure out a solution. But that is a different story about how we spent our Christmas. Back to New Year's.

At midnight we finally heard fireworks. We went out onto our freezing balcony and watched the ones that we could see just past a large building. We also heard the New Year's bells that ring 108 times as part of a Buddhist custom to reflect on the bad things of the past year, wipe them clean, and start anew in the New Year.

We turned the TV on again to see what was going on. It turns out that the place to party was actually pretty close to us. The Tokyo Dome had a giant Boy Band extravaganza where all of the popular Japanese Boy Bands sang their songs from the last decade. And we missed it!

Now at 1:55pm on New Year's Day, we are launching the Sling Box to watch the ball drop in New York.

Happy New Year!


Angela Hines said...

Your NYE sounds almost as exciting as ours! We did manage to BOTH stay awake this year...major feat. No tiny ice cream for us though...just a bottle of wine and a Jane Austen chick flick! :) Happy New Year!

Anonymous said...

Congratulations on the pregnancy. Thank you for the Christmas letter. Calvin and I are reading it right now. It is fun to look at the pictures and read about your latest adventures. We are happy and excited for both of you. We don't have a family blog, yet. However, our email is
God bless you both,
Michelle and Calvin

The Jobe Family said...

Ok, you inspired us. We did a blog. We thought it would make it easy for you to keep in touch with us.

Angela said...

We enjoy reading blogs of people we know. Well, Dan enjoys reading all blogs.