“Ultraman + Mt. Fuji = JAPAN” – Photo by emrank
I am not arroud to make fun of Japanese-accented English, so sitting through two hours with an embassy official who was helping us fill up deceptively difficult forms was quite a task yesterday afternoon.
But it’s almost all done. Naomi’s and my marriage has been registered (we didn’t know we had to do this), and Kai’s birth has also been logged. This means our chubby little bub is now officially Japanese as well as Singaporean.
There’s still the matter of getting a passport for Kai, for which, we were told by the embassy official, we needed to get a passport-sized photograph of him ‘with his eyes open’.
The helpful official even drew an open eye within the outline of a head printed on a sample application form. I wanted to tell her our son was not a cyclops but I was too tired and just glad we got the first parts done.
Some more, the Daikin aircon in the interview room was on the brink, so it got warmer and warmer as the last few pages of the forms were being filled up, until the official helping us could take it no more (neither could we, but we were trying to be polite) and shoved the remote control at me and asked me to do sumsing about it.
For New Year’s this year we decided that it would be nice to observe a little family tradition. From Naomi’s side of the family, that is. From Naomi’s father’s side of the family, that is. Mixed marriages are so much fun.
We decided to do this traditional New Year’s Eve and Day thing so that when our baby is born, we’ll be able to present to him a smorgasbord of traditions from all sides of our families, with smorgasbord alluding to the food bit of tradition, not the Swedish bit, because we don’t have any Swedish in our blood except for the time I got a couple of splinters in my hand from assembling an Ikea armchair.
On New Year’s Eve, it is traditional to eat toshikoshi soba and watch a music variety show on NHK, but we caught only a bit of it at home before going over to Naomi’s mum’s and she doesn’t have NHK on cable, so we missed the bulk of it. Toshikoshi soba symbolizes longevity, so we’re good. I don’t know what the tv show symbolizes so I don’t know what we’ve missed.
Naomi prepared the soba with as many ice cubes as the fridge could make – which wasn’t enough – because we decided on cold soba instead of hot, and we managed to get the noodles down our throats before the clock struck twelve.
Different families in different regions observe these customs differently – and we opted for a 7am start on New Year’s Day for the consuming of ozoni, a soup with really yummy toasted mochi.
We’re told that what you do on New Year’s sets the tone for the rest of the year. I went to work right after a big bowl of ozoni, and I’ll be satisfied if that means I’ll be having work and food all year.
Many families celebrate New Year’s over three days, so there’s still a bit of time to go eat and be happy. Meantime, Naomi and I wish you a very happy oshogatsu.