Starting on Saturday (the 27th of December) we started cooking and cleaning all sorts of things. The next week Tomoko visited her friends house quite regularly to prepare the Shougatsu feast. Basically the correct Shougatsu celebration method is, cook enough food for 3 days then have it all prepared by the first of January, that way for the first three days of the new year, no one has to do shit and everyone can just enjoy sitting around and bullshitting the start of the year away. Below are some pictures from that event, we had a lot of delicious food and amazing wines, naturally there were also a lot of guests.
Tomoko went over to Akemi's sister's all week before New Years and prepared Shougatsu meals with Akemi and Akemi's sister. After roughly four days of preperation, the array of delicious food in the second image was the result. They really worked and we were all very thankful come January first which is what can be seen in the fourth image. Each family took their portion home after all the cooking was completed and the fourth image shows what Tomoko brought home to all of us. During all this preperation time I was put in charge of monitoring kids, which is just another way of saying that I had to play nintendo Wii all day with Akemi's sister's daughters who are 7 and 9. The center image, image three, is of Toshi Koshi Soba. Soba is a type of noodle in Japan and can be found in a lot of meals. Toshi - ? means year, and Koshi - ?? means over / across so basically Toshi Koshi Soba is Cross the Year Soba. Anyway it is always eaten at midnight on the 31st and you can see by the clock that is exactly what we are doing.
Lastly Tomoko and I went to Miyajima on the 2nd of January. Every year I bug her to take me to Miyajima but because she has lived in Hiroshima nearly all her life she has been there a hundred trillion times so its "magic" has lost its touch. Similarly if you lived near Disney World in Florida you might not be all that thrilled to go there every year, since it really does not change much from year to year. In any case, since this is our last year in Japan, because we are moving back to the States in May, I managed to convince her to go since it was kind of our "last chance". In the end she agreed and I really enjoyed it, the photos above are my proof. It really was a lot of fun though and it was especially great because Tomoko agreed to hike up to the top of the mountain on the island which is especially important since it is the only reason I ever want to go.