Thursday, December 31, 2009

Akemashite Omedeto; New Years in Japan

I'll admit, I thought I was going to have a horrible New Years this year. New Years stopped being fun when I got too old to bang on pots and pans, and too young to drink. And I was going to be without friends or a boyfriend on New Years too. So needless to say, I didn't find much hope in my New Years celebrations for 2010.

But much to my surprise, my parents made sure I had a great New Year. I would like to say that all the fun we had last night was for me. And despite not having friends, booze, or a boy to kiss to ring in the new year, I think this was quite possibly the best New Year I had.

7:00pm-8:30pm: Dinner at the Ocean Breeze
The Officers club here on base was having a New Years dinner buffet. It was a strange combination of prime rib and sushi, but it turned out to be pretty good. The sushi was naturally good, though it wasn't Out-In-Town sushi, and the prime rib was decent, but I'm not a huge fan of red meat. I stuffed myself though. I was carrying the biggest food baby anyone has ever carried.

[I'm too full!]

9:00pm-10:00pm: Exploring Mihama
Mihama is an entertainment and shopping village, with a shopping mall, movie theater, arcades, attractions, and restaurants. It's the A. Number 1 hangout for the youth of Okinawa, seeing as it caters so much to them. But American's frequent it often, giving it the nickname "American Village". We decided to see what was happening here.

First, we found live bands were to be playing all night. At first there was an amateur J-pop band that wasn't as annoying as Big-Bang. Actually, they were kind of cool. The second band we saw when we were leaving Mihama was pretty cool too. I don't know how I would explain their sound but I can explain their look--the lead singer had an afro and was wearing yellow pants, and the bassist looked to be about 40 and was wearing a wind breaker. Which is pretty bitchin.

I got to meet him after that. And yes, that is a crown barett in his hair

I found out that instead of moshing like a possessed idiot like we do in America, the Japanese have a much more peaceful way of expressing their musical ecstasy--waving scarves around. Yes, they literally have towels and scarves that they twirl around in circles to the beat. Dad waved his little skull cap, I waved Mom's scarf around and she had her own piece of fabric that she waved. Ron of course, was too cool to twirl things around to a man wearing yellow tights.

As if that weren't enough fun for one night, we next found out how it feels to get your feet eaten by a bunch of little fish. They're called Doctor Fish, and they survive on the dead skin cells of humans. Yeah, fish with foot fetishes. It's not like I have ever aspired to get my scaly feet pedicured by nasty little fish, but for 500 yen, why not? I even convinced my mother to do it. We were squirming and squealing the entire time.

Mom was really freaked out. I think she hated me for making her do this!

After our pedicure, we got sticky pictures done. I missed sticky pictures! For 400 yen, you can have your own personal photo shoot. And for an vain girl who loves posing for the camera, what could be better?

11:00pm-11:45pm: Futenmna Shrine
To end the festivities, we stopped by the Futenma Shrine, which is by our base. It looked exactly like a typical picture of Japan; red hashi lanterns, bright lights and kanji ladened banners outline food stands where fried squid, bean paste patties, soba, mochi, and okonomiyaki were being fried up. I wish I could've eaten it, but there was no possible way I could enjoy putting more food in my mouth. I did manage shoyu and sugar covered mochi balls on a stick and an Okinawan donut, though my stomach wanted to shoot my hand immediately after.

All of these stands lead to the Futenma shrine where the Japanese waited until midnight to say their first prayers of the year. At midnight, the bell to the shrine was struck 108 times. I wish we could've stayed there to ring in the new year because I imagine it would've been a beautiful sound.

11:45-Midnight 2010: Home
Instead, we came home for a relaxed countdown. But with 2 dogs that decided to run buckwild around the neighborhood 10 minutes before the clock struck, and a bottle of sparkling apple cider that just wouldn't open it was a little rushed. But we made it. Ron and I climbed on top of the roof to finish off the bottle of cider [because we're alcoholics like that] and went to our respective rooms to reflect on 2009 and think on 2010.

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