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Saturday, January 1, 2011

New Year's Eve

For the last couple of months I've been working for a TV show called 「かちかちワイド.」

Last night was their 大みそか broadcast. Despite this being my fourth New Year's in Japan, I'd managed to miss the word 大みそか until this year.

I knew
元日(がんじつ;New Year's Day), and
お正月 (おしょうがつ;The New Year period that includes the 1st, 2nd, and 3rd),
and I was even okay with

年末年始 (ねんまつねんし;the end of the old year/beginning of the new one)
but I guess I didn't watch enough TV to catch 大みそか、which is the Japanese term for New Year's Eve.

Pretty much EVERY TV channel has a big special New Year's Eve broadcast. Most of the country tunes in for NHK's 紅白歌合戦、the singing contest that pits men (white) against women (red). The men won this year, BTW.

On カチカチワイド, we looked back at some of the program's more enjoyable moments from the past year, talked about New Year's traditions in other countries, and then ate some Osechi Ryouri.

One of the other reporters is 在日韓国人 (ざいにちかんこくじん;Korean person living in Japan) and she introduced a dish called ムッ: a kind of tofu made from soba that they traditionally eat to celebrate the New Year.

( is the Korean word for it.)

I'd had some concerns in talking to the director about what we we're going to do for my segment,
because there are no American New Year's traditions that are really comparable to the Japanese.

In my opinion, the closest Americans come to an お正月 experience is Thanksgiving, for a couple of reasons.
  1. Both Thanksgiving and お正月 are occasions that warrant 里帰り (さとがえり;a return to your hometown).
  2. Both involve 伝統的な料理 (でんとうてきなりょうり;traditional food) that you share with your family.
For families who go to church on Christmas, that one might be an even closer match for you, because it's tradition in Japan to visit a temple on New Year's Eve for 除夜の鐘 (じょやのかね;ringing in the new year with 108 peals of the temple bell) and to visit three shrines (三社参り;さんしゃまいり)during the お正月 period.

But when it comes to American New Year's traditions, I couldn't think of anything besides the Rose Bowl Parade that didn't involve New Year's Eve.

I talked to the director about watching the ball drop, the カウントダウンパーティー (countdown party), complete with シャンパン and カウントダウンキス. But what traditional New Year's foods are there?

In the end, I managed to get them to let me introduce a staple at holiday parties: Eggnog.

Truth be told, I've never been to a party where eggnog was served, and I don't really like it that much, but it is a traditional winter beverage in the west, right?

So I made a batch, took it in, and explained it like this:
And then I talked about the ingredients, how we usually put alcohol in it, and used a word that gets thrown around a lot in Japan:
独特(どくとく;peculiar, unique, characteristic).
Alcoholic eggnog has an extremely unique taste, and people usually divide pretty cleanly into "Like it" and "Hate it" categories, which I also said.

You can check out my recipe for eggnog, and more specific details in Japanese on my cooking blog, here: 冬になったら、飲まなきゃ!エッグノッグの作り方!

The other thing we talked about a lot was how I've been paired up a lot this year with a woman named こかどひろこ。

Kokadoさん is a fantastic reporter, and ridiculously talented and funny. It's amazing to get to work with her. But since they pair us together, we... or rather, she, has developed this shtick where she comes on to me, and I get really uncomfortable. We got a handful of emails from people saying that they enjoyed the コント of our コンビ。

コンビ is shorthand for "combination" and most often used to describe a comedy duo.
コント comes from the french word conte and in Japanese, it's used to describe the short, light-hearted, intentionally comedic bits that comedians do.

We got to joke around on air saying 「それってコント?べつにコントのつもりじゃないけど。。。」

And when a clip from one of Kokadoさん's reports came in first place as the most interesting one from last year, they asked me to give her a congratulatory message. To make that message funny, I learned a new phrase, which is actually a cool one to know:
手取り足取り (てとりあしとり)
手取り足取りis used to refer to teaching someone how to do something, and it means "with great attention to detail," but look at the kanji. Imagine a teacher "picking up" a students hands and feet and literally showing them how to do something. Any time you've seen some guy using his body to "teach" a girl how to shoot pool, or swing a golf club, or .... anything like that, that's 手取り足取り.

And just like that guy "teaching" the girl, the Japanese phrase has the same connotation of... ulterior motives.

So I got to say "おめでとうございます!僕もこかどさんみたいに、楽しいリポートをできるようになりたいから、来年も手取り足取りで、色々教えて下さい。"

To which she replied "なんでも教えて上げるわ," in her sultriest voice.

It was a funny moment, and a good broadcast over all.

I'm really grateful that I've been able to work with them this year. The producers got us a variety of Japanese New Year's food, and we had an 打ち上げ (うちあげ;wrap party) afterwards.

I'll be back on the program next friday to talk about ramen, so I've studied up on everything you could ever possibly say about ramen. Will bring you a post on it as soon as I can!

Hope you had a great 2010, and hope you have an even better New Year.


Anonymous said...

Happy New Year!
Btw in Germany (where I come from) we have this tradition called Bleigießen (Lead-pouring) at Silvester (New Years Eve). Though as for you with Eggnog, I have never seen somebody doing it.

And thanks for the answer on the last post.

Serazahr said...

Now this is showing a wrong username.... let's hope this one works

Defendership said...

Pretty excited to actually SEE some of your TV stuff. I was convinced until now that you were just making crap up.

Serazahr said...

I just checked out the shows website, looks really awesome.
Could you write a post about how you got into TV, or how does one do about getting into one.


BilabialBoxing said...

I agree with Brettendership. You are APPARENTLY not a liar.

Blue Shoe said...

Hey hey, looks like you're doing pretty well! Have a great 2011, man!

viajera4eva said...

So glad you're back posting! Keep it up! and yeah sooner or later that honeymoon was bound to be over... you're still funny and at least you can get keitai chains in any possible design. and sushi.. oh man...

viajera4eva said...

Oh, and can you provide us with a hyperlink to a clip of YOU on the show. It'll be fun, I'm sure.

Jacob said...

Hey, Judooverlord. I hadn't been around yoji for a while and it's good to see you back, change or no change. Keep trucking and though it's not that 'you can't do no wrong', you're still doing some (different) quality stuff. Hope you keep the drive and know where to find the love when a particular source runs out.

Jacob said...

Hey, Judooverlord. I hadn't been around yoji for a while and it's good to see you back, change or no change. Keep trucking and though it's not that 'you can't do no wrong', you're still doing some (different) quality stuff. Hope you keep the drive and know where to find the love when a particular source runs out.