Happy New Year from Tokyo: Welcome 2018

Today I picked up my order of Osechi-ryori, boxes of celebratory New Year’s foods. These are freighted with auspicious symbolism and beautifully packaged inside boxes called jūbako. (Haruka Masumizu describes the individual meanings of each item in Savvy Tokyo, December 26, 2016).

Even though I won’t be lining up outdoors with any crowds for shrine or temple visits—it’s a chilly night and they’re not my deities—I figured that I might as well enjoy the traditional feast along with everyone else. I certainly had no desire to be in a restaurant or resort to pizza tonight.

It made no sense to pass up on such distinctive, traditional pleasure just because I am a family of one and this food is usually shared. A friend had given me a bottle of Yamagata Nihonshu which was a lovely complement to the food. Afterwards I opened the bubbly.

Stores will be closed for two days. I’m not sure whether that means the convenience stores which are normally open 24/7 as well. However, I have put up a supply of water, milk, cream, wine, coffee, granola and the like to see me through. Together with the Osechi-ryori, I certainly run no risk of starvation. Boredom, perhaps. Well see how it goes.

I find myself somewhat in limbo. This is a highly connected culture and during this period especially, everyone goes home to their family seat. There is an orderly traffic jam on trains, in airports and highways as everyone leaves en masse. In two days that congestion will repeat itself as everyone returns.

The shut-down began on the 29th as some of the smaller shops closed their doors. About half were shuttered by yesterday afternoon. Very few were open when I enjoyed a brief walk mid-afternoon today. Streets were almost empty of cars or people.

I’m rather sorry to see this year end. It has been one of the blessed ones. Solidly grounded in gratitude and grace. Filled with more sunshine than usual.  Plus good health, good fortune, the pleasure of family and friends, creative pursuits and grand adventures abroad. Wow.

I don’t make resolutions. Decided not to set myself up for inevitable defeat years ago. But I rather love the resolutions Meghan Markle shared at the end of 2016 on her blog The Tig (which, alas, she closed earlier this year). Then look what happened.

With or without a prince and a palace, I can get into her spirit.

For this new year, the only thing I aim to do is to approach life playfully. To laugh and enjoy, to keep my standards high but my level of self-acceptance higher.

My New Year’s resolution is to leave room for magic. To make my plans, and be okay if they sometimes break. To set my goals, but to be open to change.

To let the magic know that there is an open door policy … and that it is always welcome to join the party.

I’ll toast to that!


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