We went for some supply shopping (running out of cleaning supplies) and arcade game playing. The mall is not too far from us so as much as I am not a fan of triple decker shopping complexes, in the winter an enclosed area that meets all of our random needs is quite nice.
The mall wasn't so crowded, as most people were probably at home cleaning and preparing for the New Year. The only place that was booming, really, was the supermarket. Traditionally Japanese people like to make special bentos called osechi filled with all sorts of auspicious delights that will make them healthy, wealthy, and wise for the coming year. Everything is made ahead of time to allow for the cooks of the household to have a reprieve from their duties.
We have discovered that in the city people are more likely just to order their osechis instead of slaving over the stove for days before the holidays. Some people just make a few of the dishes that they like, particularly the black soybeans and mochi. We don't really make anything besides for the ozoni, a soup that everyone eats on the first morning of the New Year. It is supposed to warm you up when you return from the midnight visits to the shrines and temples.
There was another side to the crowded supermarket, less festive but practical. The shops will be closed for the holiday, the only days when they close for the whole year. This is something that we have learned the hard way requires attention. In super convenient Japan, you become really soft as a shopper since if you forget something then you can always go to one of the hundreds of convenient 24 supermarkets and convenience stores in your neighborhood. Thinking ahead for your next three days' meals and other necessities can strain your creativity if you are such a soft shopper, as we are.
This brings us to another resolution. We are going to give up our soft, city ways and adopt a more traditional method of planning our (healthier) meals. Recently I discovered a Saturday morning organic market on my way to work and last week I took Jason and the gang to see it. He was, as I expected, impressed. All sorts of lovely vegetables and foodstuffs that you cannot find in the stores, right there being sold by regional farmers for the benefit of us urban-dwellers. We had tried to order a veggie box from a local organic supplier for a bit but since it is a bit of a gamble we often wasted a lot of the contents (particularly if it was a good week for something like onions). I also like the idea of taking the kids down to see the loveliness in person and run around with the farmers' kids and other young customers. And since it is only two train stops away, I think it will blend into our weekly routine quite nicely.
2012 is all about living the life we want and I think including this reformed habit will make the coming year and all those that follow full of health, a little more wealth, and hopefully a bit more wisdom.