New Years Day, January 1st aka Gantan is the most important holiday of the year here in Japan. People welcome a new beginning; families spend the day together eating special dishes prepared in advance -to relieve the family cook from duty this day; they also visit the homes of relative and friend to eat and drink to the New Year. New Year's Eve is generally spent visiting the local Buddhist temple or Shinto shrine. Before midnight on New Year's Eve, temple bells begin to toll slowly 108 times - it's called joya-no-kane. It is said that the temple bell toll to purify us of our 108 worldly desires.
Unsure if the local neighborhood temple welcomed visitors (us) and even more uncertain if we really wanted to purify ourselves of the 108 worldly desires (note to self: look up and see what these are), we opted for the more Westernized NYE option - we went to a party. Or a potty if you ask the 2 year old. Somehow being born in the UK to American parents has given him a very strange accent. Am not certain that time spent in Japan is going to help his cause.
Anyway, The Husband's colleague and his lovely wife organized an impromptu dinner party for 10 of us at their house in Omotesando otherwise known as the Champs Elysees of Tokyo. Although they live in the residential area, we had to drive past the shopping district whereby I suffered whiplash gawking at the likes and lights of Dolce & Gabbana, Bottega Veneta, YSL, Harry Winston, Ralph Lauren....*sigh*. My night would have been complete, but the potty (see above) was waiting for us. The host (French) and his wife (Chinese but raised in London), host's mother (French), Hungarian couple, the token New Yawka and the under 3 crowd of G and Oli made up our totally random group of revellers. The food was delish, the music was loud and the alcohol was plentiful. The Hungarians brought lentils which we ate after midnight as is their tradition. Apparently this is meant to bring you as much riches in the New Year as the number of little lentils. Perhaps sensing that his own mother was more interested in her wine, G elected to sit on lap of said French grandmother and eat lentils with her to ring in the New Year. Yes, he was still awake at midnight and going strong. I said it before - I'm not winning Mother of the Year anytime soon.
We did venture up to their rooftop at just before midnight with Veuve Cliquot in hand, but were unable to catch fireworks or tolling temple bells. Contented ourselves with attempting to look (see definition for Peeping Tom) into the next door neighbor's house, in order to see his indoor climbing wall. Managed to convince The Husband that singing Auld Lang Syne at the top of his lungs from the rooftop was probably not the best idea-did I mention that the alcohol was plentiful? All in all, a very successful party and a great way to celebrate our first New Years Eve in Japan. Cheers to 2011 and to all of the adventures that may come our way.