Thursday, January 3, 2008

Happy New Year!

Akemashite omedeto gozaimasu!

I'm starting this year full of ideas and goals; so many new things I want to create, which means I have to make a schedule and stick to it. Clear goals and sales objectives will also be on my stick-to-it schedule.

This past holiday season was a great one, so I feel motivated to organize myself for this new year. I have to thank all my new and returning customers for shopping at my online shop,, and for coming to see me at craft shows. Pretty exhausted after a busy production period, but I'm feeling good now, finally getting over a couple bouts with the same dang chest cold.

The holidays were busy, seeing family and friends and not having much time at home. I get a little cranky going out all the time, since I can be a real mole, happy to spend days at a time at home. I just like "being in my stuff." Kinda glad to be back to my regular schedule now, and looking forward to getting back to work!

The New Year's Day tradition at our family house...
New Year's has always been a big celebration at my house. Christmas was warm & cozy and for our immediate family, and once that was over, preparations began almost immediately for Oshogatsu, or the New Year when relatives and friends would drop by our house for a bite and a drink, to welcome in the coming year. It was kind of a Japanese Canadian tradition to go from house to house of friends and family, stay awhile, eat a little, and move onto the next; some families were hosts, while others did the house-hopping. We've always been hosts, and I know my dad particularly looked forward to this day every year, since his brothers and their families always came over and enjoyed all the food we had prepared. It never seemed to matter that we had a very small house; everyone just crammed themselves in, piled their coats on my parents' bed, and took shifts coming to the table to eat. There was food wherever there was a surface to put it on, desserts on the living room coffee table, fruit salad and munchies on the wall unit shelves, soda, beer and wine chilling in the snow out on the back balcony.

The tv set was usually temporarily moved to a bedroom for that day where people could sit if they absolutely had to watch the football game (usually my brothers and their friends). As a child, I loved having so many people in the house; I was amazed that we could feed so many and I was always so proud that everyone commented on how delicious everything was. My mom and dad made everything from scratch as most Japanese Canadians did since there were no ready-made Japanese foods available in stores - until fairly recently.

When my dad passed away in 1993, there was no question in my mom's mind that she wanted to continue this tradition and she did it for 12 years before she passed away in the summer of 2006. This was our second New Year's Day without her, but my brother, sister and I who are together (my other sister and two bros are in Western Canada and do not make it home for the holidays) for New Year's have kept the party going in my parents' honour.

Here's this year's menu (I'm sure I'm forgetting something), which has remained pretty much the same since my dad's time - well, with some year-to-year tweaking:

  • variety of makizushi and nigiri zushi;

  • sashimi - this year blue marlin added to the usual maguro;

  • Japanese Canadian style chowmein;

  • tako (octopus)

  • kazunoko (herring eggs)

  • shirai (spinach and tofu salad)

  • kinpira gobo

  • bean salad (has replaced potato salad, which we always had for the newbies who didn't like Japanese food)

  • chashu (bbq pork)

  • Shoyu chicken

  • baked salmon

  • wonton

  • variety of pickles
  • manju, or Japanese red-bean filled sweets
  • fruit salad and mikan (little oranges, now replaced by clementines)
  • sweets galore

And here are some photos of our spread:

The table is ready!

Nigiri zushi -maguro (melt-in-your-mouth)

Smoked salmon, suzuko and masago sushi

Maki platter with inarizushi; next to it is blue marlin sashimi

My brother's secret tako recipe - cooked to perfection every time, NEVER rubbery! It was just taken out of the pot here, so it's still steaming...

Baked red snapper, its head and tail arched upwards for a yearful of good luck! He's resting on a new platter made by my potter friend, Yukari, who came over to help with preparations. She surprised me with that beautiful gift on New Year's morning, just perfect for our fish! You can see more of her work here:

Hope you enjoyed hearing a bit about our New Year's tradition; we plan to keep this going for years to come! Will write again soon :)

1 comment:

nkonishi_1 said...

Hope this comment gets thru (recent attempts at leaving comments, unsuccessful): I have been sorely mistaken in the past, by saying you are a bad blogger. In fact, you are an excellent blogger and photographer. The salmon is truly mouthwatering!
thank you for the detailed account of the festivities.
In shame,