2019 New Year's Party
We had the AISF New Year's Party on January 19 at the Atsumi International Foundation Hall. All together 43 of us, including staff members of the Foundation and Raccoon members and their family, got together and celebrated the New Year enjoyably.
Staff members started preparation early in the morning to make the soup of ZONI (rice-cakes boiled with vegetables) and Mochi-Gome(special rice for glutinous rice).
Raccoon members from Taiwan and China were busy making Gyoza (jiaozi or dumpling). However the Raccoons this year, myself included, had no experience making Gyoza, and staff members of the foundation were surprised when some of us asked if it was true that we start from making the dumpling skin. Ms. Ishii helped us by calling 2014 Raccoon Li Hui who advised us on how to make the dumplings. We prepared three kinds of dumplings - vegetable, beef and shrimp - using three kinds of skin - green, white and orange in color. In the last stage of making the dumplings, senior Raccoon members and staff members of the foundation also joined the Gyoza team, and all together we managed to make Gyoza in time for the start of the party at 12:00.
On the table, we had various foods like Osechi(specially prepared New Year's Japanese food), Kimchi (Korean pickles) prepared by a Raccoon and Nepalese style curry. Our Executive Director, Mrs. Atsumi, introduced and explained first about Osechi in Juubako (beautifully lacquered food box) with Kamon (family crest). She explained also about Otoso (New Year's sake) and poured it into three kinds of specially prepared wooden sake-cups - small, medium-size and large - and served it to Raccoon members. According to her explanation, Otoso has an effect on driving away evil spirits and will help us to enjoy immaculate life this year.
After having Zoni which was prepared in the courtyard using fresh rice-cakes, we started a birthday party for Mrs. Atsumi. Actually, we, the 2018 Raccoons, had formed a LINE group to communicate through LINE back in July 2018 just for this birthday party. I realized back then that we had to work together to take into consideration the opinions of many people and take action. We formed two groups, one for bouquet and the other for cake. The flower group arranged a big bouquet of purple flowers which Mrs. Atsumi likes. The cake group prepared a specially ordered French cake with four different flavors to enjoy and which had the number "91"(the age of Mrs. Atsumi) made from strawberries on top of the cake. All of us partook in the cake with relish. Beside the flowers and cake, we prepared a portrait of Mrs. Atsumi as well as a surprise gift and presented it to her. Ms. Yan Chun Tin (2018 Raccoon, Tokyo University of the Arts) drew a beautiful portrait on a message board and other members stuck their congratulatory messages on flower-shaped seals in their own language.
Mrs. Atsumi was very delighted.
We enjoyed a game of Bingo afterwards. A lot of gifts, starting from antiques from the storehouse of the Atsumi Family to gift cards from Starbucks, were stacked up. Everyone, regardless of whether they succeeded in bingo or not, could get any gift and we could all start the year with good luck.
(Wu Xiao Xiao / Doctoral course of Ecole pratique des hautes Etudes)
Translated by Kazuo Kawamura
English checked by Sonja Dale