Friday, December 31, 2004

2005 - Are you ready?

Not a big one but a good eventful one nonetheless.

I didn't really feel like having another huge night out and so I was left pondering what I was going to do to see 2005 roll in. Some mates were hitting Osaka for a crazy all-nighter clubbing, I was invited by another Japanese mate to go to a Sannomiya club but the whole idea of clubbing out all night to celebrate the new year didn't seem all that inviting seeing that I could just do that back home. So I decided to do it Japanese-style.

With Basement Jaxx in the background while I was getting ready, I did feel the urge to go out and party. However the strong winds and cold night made me think otherwise. It was freakin' freezing!! I made my way to the train station to try one of the new restaurants while I waited for a call. Standing outside one of the restaurants I tried to decipher the menu and there I was approached by this random old guy. I couldn't really understand him so I decided to use my heavily foreign accented Japanese so he would get the picture. Then he started asking questions like where I was from, Oh Australia? But you don't look Australian? Are you half Japanese? Where are your parents from? yadda yadda in Japanese - well that's what I could make out of it. He then said in literal translation "Shall we eat together?" pointing into the restaurant. What the?!?! My thoughts exactly as I started going into red alert mode and blurted out that I was waiting for a friend. He still persisted but then luckily a friend of his saw him and called him over. Maybe he was meant to meet him so he walked towards the train gates.

I was really hungry by this time and they were still hanging around so I decided going in the opposite direction would be best. After they walked out of my sight I quickly dashed into the restaurant. I think the manager had seen all of this from the window and politely ushered me in and gave me a well hidden seat behind a screen. The old waiter guy also spoke good english and wished me a "Happy New Year!"

After my lovely and filling 'mixed fry' dinner set, I walked to my local shrine - "Kai Jinja." Being by the ocean, it is a shrine for the sailors and water merchants. There were stalls set up selling food and charms, lanterns, pictures of roosters (it being the Year of the Rooster), side-show games and crowds of people. It being 11.50pm on a freezing cold night didn't stop the droves of families, couples and young kids visiting their local shrine or temple. There was a huge line already building up and as soon as it past midnight, the guards/security/traffic police let the people in and everyone rushed to the front of the shrine where they threw in money, rang a giant bell and said a prayer for the new year.

For a moment I was thinking "What is going on?" I looked at my keitai and counted down but when it hit 12.00am...nothing. Major anti-climax. Everyone was still just standing there lining up. Where were the shouts of 'Happy Ney Year!' or the shrieks of 'Woo Hoo!' ?? I was beginning to feel totally cheated until a gong sounded and then the madness.

It was crazy! I went along with the sea of people - definately no use trying to fight it - and ended up at the front corner. It was a whole heap of pushing and shoving and jam-packness! Then the priest guys in white robes started throwing out packets of something and everyone went insane! They were pushing to get to the front to catch what the priests were throwing out. I managed to get two *tee hee hee* one fell right into my arms and one right by my feet, and discovered they were 'mochi' -rice cakes, traditional new years food. But since they weren't cooked they were mega hard and lethal. In amongst the rush and scampering to claim one of these lucky mochi bags, one hit a girl on the forehead and she went down. There were crying, lost kids and the security guys were doing their utmost to keep things in order. I took some happy snaps then squeezed out of their before I got konked on the head with some flying rice rocks.

The line to ring the main bells snaked all the way down the street! So I went to the nearby smaller, not-so-packed bell, threw my money in, rang the bell and pretended like I knew what I was doing. I also bought some fairy floss, takoyaki, red bean paste waffle, yakitori, chocolate coated banana-on-a-stick and some presents.

On my way home I also found my local video store and it was open! So I went in, signed up and hired some videos. Called Rui to wish her a "Happy New Year" and I'm sure she was very happy now that Joel is there with her. They leave for Shanghai in a few days - ooh so lucky!

Another year gone, another year to embrace. Here's wishing all you guys a very Happy New Year! I hope your new year shinanigans and countdown antics, whatever you get up to, wherever in the world you are, are just as fun and meaninful as they can be. Have a safe holiday too!

Enjoy & Savour!


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