David Chart's Japan Diary

February 19th 2009

This diary entry will actually be about Christmas and New Year, because, yes, the diary is quite a bit behind. Having a small child does seem to cut into the available time for doing things like this, and, of course, this year I'm writing Tamao as well. That's doing OK at the moment; the number of people reading it seems to be increasing. I still need a larger audience than I have if it's going to be viable long-term, but for now, it's doing OK.

So, on to the main business.


As I'm sure I've mentioned every year, Christmas is not a holiday in Japan. Nevertheless, I took the day off, so that I could spend Christmas with my family. My main activity was cooking Christmas dinner. Last year, the turkey wasn't thawed by Christmas Day, even though it was a small one, so this year I got it out of the freezer two days early. It still didn't thaw out; it still had ice on, in fact. A bit of consultation with web sites suggested that I could finish defrosting it at room temperature, so I did that (only good for small turkeys, note). It took a bit longer to cook than the guidelines suggested, so it had to go back in the oven for twenty minutes after we'd started eating. On the bright side, it was good when it came out that time, and none of us got food poisoning.

Mayuki and Presents Mayuki's Christmas Dinner

In keeping with Chart family tradition, we saved the presents for after Christmas dinner. Mayuki had no problem with that, but in the future she might, possibly, get a bit more insistent, particularly if dinner is as late again as it was last year. However, last year she really liked her presents, and played an active role in opening them. The giraffe thing that you can see in the picture is on wheels, and she really likes it. The other presents included toy cars, and a DVD, which were also a big hit. She has, however, finally got a bit tired of that DVD. The year before last, Mayuki wasn't old enough to really participate at all, of course, so in a sense last year was her first real Christmas.

In all, then, it was a nice family day, spent together. Just as it should be.

New Year

Yuriko and Mayuki Ready to Go

New Year is a holiday, and I took about a week off, since most of my students were not taking lessons anyway. We stayed in Kawasaki for New Year's Eve and Day, and then went to Nagoya to stay with Yuriko's parents for a couple of days. At midnight on New Year's Eve we went to Shirahata Hachiman Daijin, the local shrine, to do our hatsumoude. This year, Yuriko wore her kimono, because she's had a lot of classes and can now put a kimono on by herself without any problems. The shrine staff noticed, and assumed that she must have been somewhere else first. We also put Mayuki in the Japanese tabard that came with her Hina dolls, but she was asleep in the baby carrier while we were at the shrine, so people couldn't easily see what she was wearing. I wonder whether she will be awake for it next year?

This year again we had good weather, and got there a bit early, before the queue had snaked all the way out of the shrine grounds. We wished the shrine family a happy new year, and they gave us a soap cow. This year is the year of the ox in the Chinese zodiac, hence the nature of the gift.

On New Year's Day, we ate traditional Japanese New Year food. I described that last year, so I won't go into detail this time. It was good; there are a few things in the traditional mix that I don't really care for, but most of it is very nice. Mayuki even ate a bit.

We went to Nagoya on the second, and had lunch with Yuriko's relatives, at the big family background. I didn't managed to come first in the bingo this year, but I did win quite early on. Mayuki seemed to be quite happy, and even gave Yuriko's cousin's son some rice crackers; she seemed quite taken with him, in fact. (He's, er, about eight, I think.)

Yuriko and Mayuki Wheee!

We didn't go on any long trips from Nagoya. We went shopping to buy Christmas presents, for me and Mayuki from Yuriko's parents, and we went to the local park for a little walk. Mayuki enjoyed that, and really enjoyed going on the slides. She seems to really like moving quickly, swinging up and down, and going round and round. As her aunt has pointed out, it sounds like she will be really into rollercoasters. Which is a shame, because I don't like them. Maybe she'll be OK going on by herself.

Nagoya by night Nightscape

Before we came home, by Shinkansen, we went up a new skyscraper in the centre of Nagoya. The view from the top is really quite spectacular. It's also directly opposite the towers of the JR station, which used to be the tallest buildings in Nagoya, so you can now look down on them. When I first saw them, and took a picture, more than five years ago, I really didn't imagine that I was going to get to see them from this angle.

We had booked seats on the Shinkansen two months in advance, which was a good thing, because it was absolutely full. All the seats were taken, and there were people standing in all the aisles and in the spaces between the carriages. The trolley service was restricted to the first-class cars, because there was no way they could get through the rest of the train. However, we had seats, and Mayuki was a good girl all the way home. Advance planning is a good thing when you are trying to move at the same time as most of the rest of the population of Tokyo.

So, that was our holiday season. Nothing wildly exciting, but a very pleasant week or so. And rather delayed in getting onto the web.