This is the translation of 明けましておめでとうございます, which is used in place of ‘Happy New Year’ in Japanese.
This post was intended to be a few thoughts and also a checking-in to tell you, I’m still here and Bijinjapan is still here, just on the backburner (as it has been since I started working in a kindergarten last March, really!). But it’s just turned into a report of how I personally spent the Christmas-New Year period.
I had a really nice Christmas with my family in Australia. It was honestly wonderful to be together at Christmas. I know it’s not the same for everyone, and the pressure for everything to be beautiful/perfect/amazing can mean it’s extremely stressful for some, and horribly lonely for others. You can go broke at Christmas, too. It can be miserable for some. Luckily for me, especially because I escaped the pressure of the build-up by being in Japan during that time, the Christmas of 2017 was lovely.
It was also great being in Australia for Christmas. Summer in Victoria, when there are no bushfires, is gorgeous! I’d forgotten. Warm days – hot and burny in the sun – and cool nights.
However, soon after Christmas, we had a death in the family. The funeral was organised to be held before I came back to Japan, luckily. I’m glad I was able to be there.
Grandad was 96, nearly 97. He lived in the country, 3 hours out of Melbourne by car. I went up with Mum on the same day he died. Dad came too. Then Mum and her siblings, my aunties and uncles, got together and got organising. There was a lot to do. I hadn’t ever had to really think before about all the things that have to be done when someone dies. They spent the first day calling people to let them know, which was quite a process. They got a notice arranged to be put in the paper and made sure all the necessary people were notified by phone as soon as possible so that they wouldn’t hear about it via social media in some form.
There were a lot of things to be gone through and the funeral arrangements to be made, and the eulogy to be written. This was between Christmas and New Year so lots of things were closed and people away, and some of the grandchildren and great-grandchildren live a couple of thousand kilometres away so they had to book flights to get there. It was extremely nice to see a lot of the people who came. Some of Mum’s high school and uni friends came. It was naturally a hugely sad and pretty tiring thing for everyone involved. The day of the funeral, everyone who’d attended was exhausted, including the girlfriends and boyfriends of Grandad’s grandchildren and most (though not all, apparently) of the great-grandchildren.
During all of these goings-on, New Year came and went. I spent New Year’s Eve with Dad at home. We got pizza and beer and put the TV on. At New Year in Australia, most people are having parties or going to Falls, and not many people are watching TV, unlike in Japan where it’s said that watching TV on New Year’s Eve has become a tradition. You either watch Kōhaku, a big singing event with lots of different artists from different genres and eras, divided into two teams (red and white, of course) or you watch Waratte wa Ikenai. What they had on in Australia on the ABC was kind of similar to Kōhaku actually, a bunch of local music acts who had been on the show ‘Countdown‘ over the years, which was pretty decent.
Over this time I also read ‘La Belle Sauvage,’ the first volume of The Book of Dust trilogy that is a prequel to Philip Pullman’s His Dark Materials. This isn’t on the same level for me, but I still very much enjoyed it. I played with my sister’s dog and my brother’s dog, separately and together, walking them, playing fetch, picking up poo, going to the dog park. That was a lot of fun, with the exception of the poo. A plus was that I had a cold and lost my sense of smell. I went on a bike ride or two. I drank a few soy cappuccinos. Cappuccini? For this, not having a sense of smell was not optimum, but some hardships must be borne. I also tried an almond milk cappuccino. I think I liked it, but need to try again with all senses working to be sure.
I met up with the writer of blossomkitty, who it turns out is a cook! and also, I already knew, a reader of this BijinJapan. I spent quite a bit of time with my Dad’s mum, who is known in my family as Nanna. I got to watch her 1.5-legged magpie friend, Charlie, and his butcher bird rivals. I saw the Book of Mormon and was impressed. I met up with some friends I’m very glad to have. I picked raspberries, cherries, peaches, tomatoes and lettuce. I also ate them. And Christmas ham and turkey, and Thai food, and drank a few bottles of my brother’s home-brewed beer, and a glass of allegedly very nice wine (again, wasted on me that day because I couldn’t smell).
Then it was time to come back to Japan, and were it not for a few particular people here, I’m not sure I would have come back. It was so, so nice being at home in Melbourne with family, and, well, the work situation in Hiroshima isn’t ideal for me. But! Those particular people keep me going. At work I’m doing my best and changes are being set in motion, and there are plans for things to do and projects to work on for as long as I’m here. So. Watch this space.
As always, thanks for reading.