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New Year – Japan Style Jan 05

While it was a pain having to leave NZ so quickly after Christmas, it did mean that I was back in Japan for New Years. Normally everyone will leave to go home to family for this, so Tokyo was relatively empty and just left us orphans to celebrate how we could.

I decided that another dinner party was in order.I came across Cornish Rock Hens in the supermarket a few weeks back, and brought one to try it out and see what was what. Well the initial test of just thrawing it, season and baste with butter in hot oven was a huge sucess. Oddly thou I could not find that many recipes on the net for them, or rather all the recipes seemed to be the same. Stuff with wild rice something something! Time for some creativity.

The theme was Spanish (so why the hell I served a Som Tam salad as a starter is anyones just. I think I was just so excited to see a green papaya in the market that I had to do something with it. There was a recipe in my new 1080 Spanish book for Cornish rock hen, but it was for frying and that was really something I wanted to do. Recipe for the rock Hens can be found here.

After a nice long dinner it was time to wrap up and head out to a temple to see the new year in. Unknown to me there is the temple of the 47 Ronin (long story) just up the road from me. A quick cab ride (cos it was so cold, and my directions are not that good a night with no map) and we reached this wonderful little temple. There was a small fire of cedar going to keep warm and a moderate line of people to ring the big bell.

Tradition is that the bell is rung 108 times at new year to represent the 108 sins of man! It was way to cool an opportunity not to get in line and do it. You are also give a small prayer that you hand back a year later. It was all rather solomn, with huge dignity. All four of us had a go, and later over hot chocolate and marshmellows I found out that the other 3 (even having lived in Japan for so long) had never rung the gong on New Years. Apparently at the major temples its just a nightmare of queuing. Finally got to bed at 4am, but it was a fantastic and very memorable way to see the new year in.

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