New Year’s Eve at the supermarket

A whole section of the store has been reduced to empty cardboard boxes — they must have held the big omiyage (gift) boxes that everyone should have bought by now for family, friends and coworkers. There are all kinds of specialty foods hiding in amongst the normal goods — slabs of octopus, deep red and pure white, in the fish section; colorful snacks next to the tofu; every variety of mochi, in jumbo sizes, filling out an ordinarily minor sweets section.

The atmosphere is not that different from an American supermarket on Christmas Eve: people are excited, maybe a little guilty for leaving this shopping to the last minute. Whole families are more numerous than usual — maybe dad or the kids were recruited to help for this special occasion, or maybe the kids asked to tag along, excited for tomorrow without quite knowing why (although if you take my students’ writing as any indication, it’s mostly anticipation for the special foods on New Year’s Day).

I had gotten sick over Christmas from spending so much time with my ill best friend (thanks, M!!), so I buy myself citrus and ginger teas. Then, because it’s a holiday and I’m all alone, I treat myself to a sashimi plate and some confection that says sakura (cherry blossom) on it. The snow is light outside but the wind is strong; my grocery bag gets a light coating of snow on the unprotected walk from the tram stop to my apartment.

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