Sake and Mikan ( Japanese Orange).

These oranges are full of vitamin C, so I try to eat in winter to avoid flu and cold.

This sake has milky, rice malt as you can see in its white color. You are supposed to shake well before drinking.

I always buy a bottle of sake for December 31.
To drink when I eat year-crossing noodle.

The combination of Soba noodle and Sake is
simple, crispy, cool....if you understand it, you are connoisseur of Japanese food !

Early Dinner on December 31, 2009

As shown, we eat Toshikoshi Soba , the buckwheat noodle wishing longevity and healthy life in new year.. before that, around 5pm, I prepared this....Sukiyaki. The ingredients are thinly sliced beef, burdock( sliced) , shiitake mushroom, tofu, konnyaku, scallion or anything you like.

I think I have introduced this method while ago, but let me write it again. This is Kansai ( Western Region ) style..... My grandfather spent some years in Kyoto and in our Watanabe family, if we get together, Sukiyaki cooking was his job.

First, put the beef tallow in the heated pan, which they usually give you at the butcher.
( There is special pan for Sukiyaki, but it is OK to use regular frying pan).

Then add beef and sugar. ( I usually use brown sugar since I feel the sweetness is milder.)
If beef is about 200 to 300 grams, I would add about 3 table spoon sugar. Then add same amount of soy sauce. When the beef is cooked, start eating the beef , by dipping them into the fresh egg. I would save some beef for later and add and start again. Beef, Sugar and Soy Sauce,
add some Sake or white wine here and add all the other veggies here. You could cover the lid to steam them. It does not have to be Sukiyaki..... I prepared it since year end is the start of new year's celebration and wanted to have something special. ( Sukiyaki is still " feast" for most Japanese. This is not something you would eat everyday.)

Toshikoshi Soba--- Year Crossing Noodles

As usual, I started preparing this buckwheat noodle around 11:15 pm on December 31, 2009 and started eating around 11:30pm and finished before midnight.

This is yearly ritual also.

New Year's Celebration " Osechi" 2010

This is the one I bought for this year's celebration.
At my parent's place this used to be made by grand mother and then mother ( for both sides actually, father's side and mother's side) . Then, since it is too hard and time consuming to cook everything at home and shops and/or department stores or well-known restaurants started delivering these.

In any case, they usually come with 3 layer trays.
This one is for single or for small families, so just one tray, but it was good enough.

From top left.....clockwise....egg roll ( bit sweet), small fish is called " gomame" or "tazukuri", the right top is golden yellow....sweetened chestnut and chestnut paste, down in the middle is seasoned scallops and kombu (cooked kelp) and angelica, down right is shredded carrot and
kelp, the pink and white stripes are 6 slices of " kamaboko" fish cake made of fish paste, then bottom left is "namasu", which is shredded marinated carrot and radish, the left middle is black beans, it tastes sweet ( So, new year's food has various sweet dishes.....usually Japanese food is salty.) Finally, the three red ones sitting in the middle is..... shrimps. All the above food means something lucky or supposed to suggest longevity, happy life, wisdom, saving money etc.etc.

It is nice start for us wishing healthy , prosperous life in new year and enjoy these food.
Well, once I invited my American friend to my parent's place while ago..... it tasted strange to him. He assumed he was poisoned (!!!).


Flower Arrangement in front of Some Beauty Salon

It was so decorative while other shops and the street was so plain..... !!! ( Near Setagaya-Daita station on Odakyu Line.)

New Year's arrangement.... how can I tell ?

Well, the bamboo, the red seeds and the pine tree....this combination is usually for new year's celebration and I just realized the color combination is just like green and red of Christmas !

Happy New Year --- 2010 / Various Ornaments

Cars have this new year decoration also for safe driving.
Lately, I see more round designs ..... there are some more photos, so will show more tomorrow including some food !


End of 2009 --- House Cleaning to Welcome New Year's God

Year End is always busy. For Japanese, it is big housecleaning season..... to welcome New Year's God to the clean house. I did all the cleaning from bathroom to windows, washed curtains, sold old books ( probably total was over 50 books).

Now it feels much better....cleaner house and ready for new year's celebration. In the apartment complex, they usually do not have the ornament ( I do ) , but if you walk around residential area, you will see pretty new year's ornaments on their entrance doors.

I will try to take some photos tomorrow to upload here.

Was this good year for you? Wishing you prosperous, successful 2010 ! See you in 2010 !!!