As many of you know by now, I grew up in Japan. Here in the U.S., the New Year holiday is relatively quiet in comparison to the Xmas holiday. Where I come from, in contrast, the New Year holiday is a great deal, even bigger than Xmas. The first few days of January are called “O-sho-gatsu” and it is a time for the entire family to get together and eat well, kids receive “O-toshi-dama”(money in a small envelop) from family and relatives, people visit temples and shrines, and watch special new year sporting events such as a famous long-relay marathon takes place between Tokyo and Hakone on January 2nd and 3rd. Most businesses are closed at least for 3 days, if not longer. It is also a time to ponder upon the upcoming year, where people wish all the best and good luck to each other and to themselves. Even though I appreciate the weather here in San Diego, I always miss Japan very much at this time of the year. This year, my mother is visiting from Japan and she cooked all the great food I would have had in Japan, and while it is not exactly the same, I still enjoyed the first day of the year 2010. We spent the morning at the Balboa park, visiting science museum and did a mini-train ride with the kids, followed by a picnic lunch. After coming home, I worked out at a 24 hour fitness club which I had not been to since I became pregnant last October. I know, it’s such a cliché to want to start anew in terms of doing exercise and I was afraid that it might be very crowded, but the gym was almost completely empty and I was pleasantly surprised. Continue reading
I heard that the Japanese movie “Departures” has finally opened in the U.S. in the past few days. The Japanese title is “Okuribito“, meaning a person who sends out (something or someone). This movie won an Academy Award for best foreign language film, though I don’t believe many Americans know of this film (and it will most likely not become a blockbuster movie). I watched it about a week ago after borrowing the DVD from my colleague. I cried on several occasions. I was watching it alone, and there were some scenes that made me think of my grandparents, both of which passed away in their own home, at different times. It made me wonder if they were taken care of as well as the ones that were shown in the movie when they were “encoffined” i.e.: being placed in the coffin.