2013 New Year’s Party

From 12 noon of the 12th of January 2013 (Sat.), the New Year's Party of the Atsumi Foundation was held at the Kajima Shinkan/Atsumi Foundation Hall. There were nearly 70 in attendance, including Atsumi Foundation Scholars, Raccoon Kai members, their families, and foundation staff. Everyone enjoyed tasting multi-national cuisines in addition to the osechi ryouri (Japanese Traditional New Year Cuisine), drinking good liquor, pummeling omochi, and lottery. To cap it all, there was also the celebration of Rijicho's birthday. It was a warm and pleasant day.

In her New Year's greetings, Imanishi-san spoke of how she strongly sensed the need to put more emphasis on relations with Asia, seeing the social changes in Japan during the last year. She chose the kanji "shin" (new) as an expression of the New Year. I think I was not the only one who was listening that felt how important the stability and affluence of Asia would be for the world.

Just to cite some national dishes that were proudly cooked up: the steamed dumplings of the Chinese team, the zoni (rice cake soup) and chijimi of the Korean team, Sri Lankan meat balls, Turkish hamburger, and Korean Chinese Kimuchi. There was also a multi-national dish which was a mixture of Beijing tea egg and vegetables care of Ishii-neesan. We also enjoyed the osechi ryouri from Rijicho. The juubako (lacquer ware used to hold the osechi ryouri) was a "genuine" engraved with ivy, the family symbol of the Atsumi family. The pattern and quality was impressive, and was something to behold, especially for somebody like me who is researching on Japanese applied arts.

Full of health and vigor, Rijicho celebrates her 85th birthday. This year's celebration was marked with a chorus of this fiscal year's scholars (piano performance of "Tanjoubi" (birthday) song by Anri Kumaki) and a PowerPoint slide presentation of birthday cards to give everyone a slice of life in back in the home of the scholars. Rijicho appeared to be very much happy and remarked in her greetings "looking at everybody's growth, adults and children alike, is my source of vigor".

To usher in peace and bountiful harvests for the New Year, the traditional omochi tsuki started with Shimazu-san showing how it is done, followed by adults and children pummeling with all their might. With Sim-san moderating, Atsumi scholars (and their families) were introduced on stage one by one starting with the 1st batch. All of them gave their own idea of a kanji for the New Year through rich presentations, which was followed by the lottery. No matter the size of the prize received, everyone had a wonderful time. This was a look into the tradition that is the New Year's Party of the Atsumi Foundation.

Photos by Yin Feilong

(by Jing-Young Chen, translated by M. Maquito)