Oshogatsu Memories

Long time blog reader @Sally posted this beautiful write up on her Facebook page.  I just had to ask her if I could post it here on MLC as anyone growing up in Hawaii can relate to it.  Thank you for sharing this @Sally!


Sally Family
Picture courtesy of sally


Growing up, our house was “that” house. The one with the complete spread of every traditional and meaningful oshogatsu food and every uncle, aunty, cousin, family friend and their families came over. My mom, aunty, and baban were busy in the kitchen from the afternoon and did not come out until the midnight fireworks string… only to go back and continue their work.


Looking back, this was the only time I was not required to participate in any of the cooking, I was allowed to play to my heart’s content with my Baby Camels and Crackerballs and watch my three big brothers (already almost teenagers) blow up ants and green army men and throw firecrackers in the metal coffee can for “effect” … as long as I remembered that the bathroom had to be scrubbed and cleaned and floors vacuumed and mopped before midnight (the clean house for New Year thing).


After midnight I was allowed for the ride with my parents to the Shinto Shrine (I think in Nuuanu) where we did the traditional offering and blessing. I must have fallen asleep on the rides home, I don’t remember ever walking back into the house.


When we woke up New Year’s morning the living room in our small 2 bdrm house was transformed into a Japanese teahouse. All the furniture was stuffed and piled into the kitchen and back bdrm and the long Japanese style low tables (fashioned from plywood panels and short sawhorses made by my carpenter daddy) were covered with white paper from that huge roll in the sewing corner that magically never seemed to run out.


The spread along the table included the fish with the daikon net drape, roast turkey w/stuffing, ham, nishime, sushi, and all the little important, meaningful side dishes like kanten, kuromame, the special kamaboko and the balogna ring thing (what is that called?), mommy’s amazing potato/mac salad, and every other traditional thing you can imagine… it was all there. All of it was made in our little kitchen, none was store-bought.


I once asked my mom why do we (yah, “we” lol) do this every year? and she said it’s tradition, everyone does it. So then I asked “If ‘everyone’ does it, who’s at THEIR house cooking THEIR food?” cuz everyone I ever knew as family was coming and going at our house! It was great!


Early New Year’s morning my daddy took me with him for a ride to the ice store. Have no idea where that was but we bought blocks of ice to put in the laundry tubs to ice pick away at and that’s where all the beverages went. One side for Diamond Head soda and the other side for Primo and Olympia beer.


As I got older (aka high school) my interest turned to the Sunshine Crater Music Festival. My friends would come over and we walked to Diamond Head to act like underaged Asian hippies in leather visors and thought we were groovy.


Mom got sick in 1973 and passed away in 1975, daddy tried to keep up the tradition and I tried to help but it was too hard. All those people didn’t show up, I guess they thought we weren’t doing it. Looking back, Daddy was sad and disappointed altho’ he really tried and all he asked me to make was the ham.


A couple of years later it was daddy’s turn to be cared for and when he passed away in 1980 I didn’t really know where to go. I don’t even remember what I did.


The tradition ended but not the memories. Man, we had major grindz that I did not appreciate back then but I can see it very clear and taste every morsel.


I had to put this memory to words, I might someday forget and who is going to care anymore?


Hoping for everyone a safe, happy, prosperous, amazing 2016!


Thanks again for sharing your small-kid-time oshogatsu memories with us, @Sally.

79 Responses to “Oshogatsu Memories”

  1. Rodney says:

    Oops, accidentally deleted a comment from Suwa. Sorry

    Aloha and thanks for the memories! Kaneohe 64 to 72…after 43 yrs on the mainland I`m finally coming “home” for a visit. I remember Wigwam, Pali Palms Hotel, Ching Lee`s ( my favorite) Checkers & Pogo and going to Bellows beach every weekend. I know things have changed but still looking forward to showing my kids and grandkids where I grew up.

  2. HbH says:


    Yeah its sad, someone should be taking a video camera and recording all the things lost. So future generations no forget what and who we are and they are.

  3. Seawalker says:

    @HBH – Just like Ala Mo’s, the closing of our last sugar company is a real downer. It feels like, well, it feels similar to your best friend now dating your ex-girlfriend. WWD? Things no make sense. For those who know about the original Big 5 in Hawaii, it is a complete 180 degree turnaround. But it’s the land that the sugar cane is sitting on that makes it so valuable. So if you’re looking for the old Hawaii, it’s slowly disappearing, and disappearing for good. Where’s the Zig zags when you need ’em? LOL

  4. Seawalker says:

    “Oh wow, @Seawalker – I never know you was one Mac. For some reason, all this time, I was thinking you was one PC.”
    Hehehe, @4G, how you know I like mac salad and not pork chops (PC) anymore? Nah. Doc told me to watch the gout in real life, but nobody going tell Seawalker what to do.

    I was thinking it was my computer instead that made it Willy Wonka. It was missing the first 50 comments or something. But @Rod fixed it, so we all good now. Was afraid it was my El Capitan that did the trick. If so, more power to me! LOL

  5. 4G says:

    Oh wow, @Seawalker – I never know you was one Mac. For some reason, all this time, I was thinking you was one PC. 😉

    BTW – good observations by you and @adobo earlier in this thread. I actually tried to post that earlier, just before all the posts went wonky – that comment appears to have gone off to Neverneverland.

    So actually, wasn’t @adobo that caused the wonkiness – was probably me! 😉

  6. HbH says:

    Aloha guys. Did anyone read about the closing of the last big sugar cain in Hawaii? Which means the closing of and era of old hawaii. Sad because i still remember the smell of burning cane fields etc. It was kinda comforting to me as a keiki.

  7. Seawalker says:

    Eh @4G, you sound pretty tech savvy which is a good thing in my books. Just did the El Capitan upgrade. The computer seems a little faster and the graphics look a lot cooler. Man, I just went from flip phone to iPhone recently. Who’s the dinosaur now? LOL

  8. 4G says:

    Sorry – should have included 1.5″ depth.

  9. 4G says:


    So – I’ve been looking for a compact bluetooth speaker.

    Happened in to Radio Shack (Ala Moana) and stumbled onto a JBL CLIP+ for like fifty-bucks (dunno if this is a good price, or what). Compactness and transportability was important to me, but I also wanted decently deep sound as could be reasonably expected with a small speaker.

    Eh, the thing pretty good! Bluetooth audio, in general, has been getting a lot better, too. It’s only like 3.5″ round – okay, kind of an exaggeration – but, think of a 3.5″ round with a little handle at the top, mounted at 11 and 1 o’clock positions. At the highest point of the handle, it measures 4.25″. The handle is a built-in carabineer (sorry – for the life of me, I can’t recall the name of the geometric shape for the handle – rectangular, two-sides angled slightly in toward the top).

    The sound is pretty darned impressive, for its relatively small size, IMO.

    Five-hour battery, Micro-USB connect for charging. Can be used as a speakerphone. Also has built-in 3.5 mm (is that right? The small one . . .) headphone plug and short, integrated cable/plug management that is non-intrusive. Also has physical link feature for (wired) connecting another CLIP+. Dunno if that would give you stereo or not. For me, I don’t need two – one is more than adequate for my purpose.

    If you looking for something like this, highly recommended.

  10. Seawalker says:

    Where’s that dinosaur, @Keoni? He must have a thing or two to say about oshogatsu. LOL

  11. Seawalker says:

    LOL @adobo. My preference is the slow-burning rolling paper. That way, you stretch out the joint a bit. You can take a deep drag, then most of goodies is still there. Man, at $20 bucks a bag and working while in college, you need to savior it all you can. Good memories for me (and hopefully for you too).

  12. Seawalker says:

    I was never one to make New Years resolutions. No need to when you perfect. LOL

    Instead of resolutions, I try to remember the things Pops taught us when growing up. Two things I reflect back on when the kids were infants–one, to help them with their sleep pattern during the night and, two, to help get them to develop good eating habits and having a healthy diet.

    No different with being an adult. Pops instilled in us not to sleep the day away. He saw how Chinn Ho was in action when he worked. Pops told us Mr. Ho did most of his important work even before the sun came up. That meant going to bed at a decent hour and to get a good night’s sleep so you can stay focused the next day.

    Some people eat to live. Not Pops. He made it clear to us, people lived to eat instead. Everyone’s father is a hero in their eyes. My Pops was no different. What he could not give us monetarily, he did so with sage advice instead. Eating is good for you. Hey, is that where they came up with, “food, it does the body good!” I wonder?

    These are some of the things you try to soak up with each passing generation. Sometimes it takes a bit of luck and sometimes it goes way more smoother than a baby’s but(t) when trying to teach the younger generation a thing or two that worked. But heck, most of the brain cells are already accounted for in my head. Let them figure it out themselves. Hehehe

  13. 4G says:

    Nah – you good! 😉

  14. 4G says:

    Okay – test to see if @adobo when broke ‘um.

  15. adobo says:

    So I’m kinda scared to post now since I was the last to post before wen broke. I ran spyware/malware scans, checked my email and nothing from Rodney so I hope was not me. If not, Rod no scade call me out. I’m the type that clears my cache and runs scans throughout the day so I hope it’s not me. @Seawalker, no cut corners, no double width. Plain white Zig-zag is #1. Back in the day, buy em by the box and make cool xmas cards/tags. @jaydee11: I read your post and hold on to it. Yes, it is work but don’t let it go. Share it with the kids, family, and friends. Making memories that will live on. But I didn’t have to tell you that. You already knew that as well as everyone who posts here. Mahalos to Sally and Rod, this was a good one!

  16. Rodney says:

    @jaydee11 – It’s great that you guys are still keeping the tradition. Times have changed so much. For example, back in the day – everything was closed on New Years Day. If you didn’t visit family or have family over – you just stayed home. Nowadays, it’s a shopping day with Fukubukuro, and New Years Day sales. Times have changed…

  17. Rodney says:

    Taa-Daa! Actually, my blog host guru, Tyson, fixed it. Thanks Ty!

  18. Walter says:

    I can’t tell but what ever–it’s fun reading everyone’s post.

  19. 4G says:


    “And I was re-reading my post to see what I said wrong.”

    You not the only one! 😉 LOL

  20. jaydee11 says:

    Just read this Sally and I’m deeply touched.My wife’s family (Japanese/American) celebrate the New Years with traditional food and friends and family stop by our house all day long. It started at our home about 10 years ago when we first bought this home. Her sister and cousins talk about cancelling the tradition because it’s a lot of work; cooking, cleaning, shopping, but I don’t see that happening. My mother-in-law is 89 now and though her mind is still sharp as a tack her body is beginning to fail her. I hope the tradition continues long after she passes… Though who knows who will keep it alive after we’re all gone.

  21. Seawalker says:

    And I was re-reading my post to see what I said wrong.

    Well then… LOL

  22. 4G says:

    Oh – fixed! TY, @Rod! 🙂

  23. 4G says:

    LOL – yup, that’s what I said, too!

  24. Seawalker says:

    BOT, thanks @Mark, at’s what happen when you makule… you go all over the place. LOL

    Usually, on New Year’s Day, we all slept in to very late. Who in their right minds would want to wake up first to sweep up the red paper? Besides, the quality of sleep was much better after eating all that food the night before. When we woke, the college football games would be on. Those were the days when the pinnacle of bowl games would be played on NYD.

    No going to shrines or worshipping deities for us. Football took precedence over that. Besides, the house of worship for us was church. So what did we do on the first day of the year? Beef, of course. It would drive our parents nuts and dad had to bust out the belt to restore order. After that, we would all do our paper routes. For some reason, the Christmas day paper was thin. But the NYD paper was thick, almost like Thanksgiving and Sundays.

    NYD also meant that school would be back in session soon again. But it didn’t matter to us. We still had candies and cookies left over from the days of paper deliver gifts at Christmas. People appreciated you more back then. But no matter. Life was carefree. You only had school to worry about.

  25. 4G says:

    @Seawalker – Big Bambu 😉

    @Mark’75 – I know; weird, yeah?

  26. Mark'75 says:

    Huh? This thread kind of broke after @adobo’s post, no?

  27. Seawalker says:

    @4G – LOL, cut corners or slow burning? That’s da kine magic paper roll I recall fondly. In Chinatown, they use the pink butcher paper from the roll. Them buggahs sore when you re-use to wipe!

  28. 4G says:

    Eh, @adobo – like @Sally said, was the “magic paper roll” (that never seemed to run out). 😉

    LOL – J/K!

  29. adobo says:

    So I have a question for Sally, Rodney, and everyone else who mentioned the huge roll of white paper that was always there at parties. Which by the way I’m pretty sure is still in a room somewhere in the house. Where did those rolls of paper come from and what was the original intended use? My grandpa use to work HNA so I always thought it was leftover unused rolls of newspaper. Back then, grandpa, dad, uncles never spend money on something you can “scavenge” from work (sometimes brand new too, haha). But later on I use to see almost everyone had and used it for quick table cloth, or in my case cover the bed so can line up the finished mandoo. Btw, my grandma, mom, and aunties never used scissors or knife to cut, just rip em and always pretty straight. I can still remember the ripping sound.

  30. Rodney says:

    “Waimanalo Uncle” had a banana patch in the back which was separated by a stream and an old creaky wooden bridge. We used to stand on the bridge and drop lit firecrackers into the stream trying to time it just right so it would blow up just as it hit the water. Those were the days…

  31. Rodney says:

    I miss the big new year’s day spread that “Waimanalo Uncle” used to put out. The same low saw-horses with the white paper wrapped plywood acting as a table. Zabuton cushions set up all around the table. Yes, I remember the kanten and my mom always warning me that it’s not jello.
    But the thing I miss is the shrimp tempura. It was done Okinawan style with a thick heavy batter – like the kine they serve at Boulevard Saimin. I used to take the shrimp tempura and dip it in the miso sauce that was made for the tako. Was so ono! Hmmm… I wonder if I could create such a dish. LOL

  32. Seawalker says:

    Very true, @adobo. It was a major event to have those get-togethers. Everything kind of centered around them when everyone was together. Not so much nowadays. We all have cell phones. It’s so easy to just text someone when you need to get in touch with them. Not so easy back then.
    Even with movies, I don’t know how they do it now. When you ask that pretty girl out or wait for Mr. Handsome to ask you out, a movie was the thing to do. It’s so easy to download or stream-in movies today. You don’t have to go to a movie theater anymore. Remember the movies? It wasn’t what you saw. It was being there in the moment. It was sitting next to your date. It was pondering when to reach out and hold her hand. It sent shivers down your spine when he went out to get the popcorn and drinks while you sat there quietly and anxiously waited for him to get back.

    So the traditions fade over time, but the memories last forever. It would be nice to be able to experience things like the good ol’ days again. But that’s okay, we got this blog to share our memories and to spill our guts. “For better or worse, in sickness or in health, till death do us part… I do!”

  33. adobo says:

    I have to agree with 4G and Seawalker. As the years past we have drifted from the ethnic traditions of earlier generations. But I also feel its a reflection of how things are now and of simpler times back then. Now, we tend to buy pre-made and there’s nothing wrong with that. But with past generations, finances were much more limited and saving money was important. Family get togethers like New Years, graduations, etc were an event where everyone would go all out, time for spend a little, but always make food ourselves to make the dollar go farther. I had fairly large families on both sides and like others my grandparent’s homes were where a lot of events took place. Everyone chipped in, financially, with labor and we all enjoyed it. Past events and traditions will always remain as great memories but I’ve always thought about my moment in time and maybe making memories like my grandparents did for me. Me and my rotisserie might have to call out my cousins and start some new traditions and memories?

  34. 4G says:

    WB @Seawalker! 😉

  35. 4G says:

    @Walter – I believe that new Sony turntable includes digitization functionality. No word on price, though – and it looks pricey! IIRC, the article I read indicated that it was targeted at the “high-end”. 😉

  36. Seawalker says:

    This is Seawalker, born again. LOL

    My memories of DOE schools is this. Saw a sign posted on one of my classes in intermediate school. It read, “Time will pass, but will you?” Sheesh, talk about school of hard-knocks. Where’s the positive reinforcement? Scarred for life…

  37. Walter says:

    I need a durable turntable for all my as the State of Hawaii terms it, obsolete technology–translated to 78 rpm records mostly Hawaiian but lots of pre-war Japanese and Chinese and some obscure American, plus a few other rarities. Got hundreds of discs scored mostly at Jellies and Goodwill over the past 30 years. Would like to digitize them under the fair use doctrine and spread the wealth to all who desire. It’s not cheap so anyone have any ideas besides the tech transfer turntables which are inexpensive but breakdown way too quickly. Is this another of my zany ways to keep the past alive? Yikes! me thinks me strange.

  38. 4G says:

    The more things change, the more they remain the same . . . .

    LOL – what is up with vinyl at CES? Sony announces new, high-end turntable. Panasonic brings back Technics direct drive turntable . . . .


  39. 4G says:

    Thanks, @Seawalker.

    And, WTH you talking about RIP? You no can go – you no more permission!


  40. Seawalker says:

    @4G – Good observation and assessment with the folks moving to retirement communities. It doesn’t feel the same knowing that ojisan and obachan are no longer hosting the get-togethers from their homes anymore. Gad, they’ve lived there for all their lives and now we have to go into a tiny cubby hole with them several floors up?
    I also think it’s an ethnic thing. As each generation passes, we get more Americanized and lose what our ancestors once held on to. I’m talking about ethnic traditions. I mean, the strong family structure is still there. Matriarchs and patriarchs are still afforded the same due respect in American society compared to even the days of the pilgrims.

    It’s the ethnic identity that is lost with each succeeding generation. For example, I won’t go out of my way to cook buku food at the stroke of midnight on New Year’s eve like my Pops and Mother once did. I don’t go around recommending tea with my meals to anyone. To each it’s own. If you want to slug down a beer with your meal, knock yourself out.

    But one thing for sure, traditions fade but memories last a lifetime. That’s probably why they coined the phrase, ‘a Kodak moment’. Speaking of which, I think my time might be up soon. Sayonara @Rod and the rest of the old-futs.

    Seawalker – RIP
    1933 to 2016
    Beloved father, husband, blog commentator, and sassy (but classy)
    Till we meet again.


  41. 4G says:

    BTW – I should have thanked you earlier, @KAN. Thanks for that short background on some of the various foods and their significance.

    So – I’ve been thinking about the decline of traditions such as Oshogatsu (I can’t help but wonder what it’s like in Japan and whether or not they are experiencing a similar decline).

    At any rate, it seems to me that the decline of this tradition is heavily influenced by aging/dying matriarchs and patriarchs. Most influential, for me, on the decline of such family gatherings was the death of my paternal grandmother. That side of my family is pretty large, but once my grandmother died, there were no more family gatherings (her house is where we used to gather).

    I think, though, that the decline is also being impacted by us becoming more Westernized. I know that for myself, I really did not want to attend any of those gatherings from around high school time. The declining average family size likely also factors in, here.

    There is another impact that I’ve been noticing over the last several years. That’s the trend for older folks to start downsizing and/or even relocating to retirement communities. This was practically unheard of while I was growing up. It used to be that the older folks would live in their houses until they died. Not so much anymore. I see more and more older folks selling their homes after their kids have gone (and many years pass and they get much older) and retreating into condominiums. I think mainly cause it’s less hassle and they don’t need as much space as they age.

    For example, on my maternal side of the family. Even after my grandmother died, the family gatherings still continued. Of course, this could also be due to the fact that the family was much smaller than my dad’s side of the family and that the siblings are all sisters. However, the family gatherings really dropped off once my parents started their relocation efforts (my mom’s house was the gathering place after my grandmother died) and was finally dealt the death knell once my aunty and uncle moved out of their house and into a condominium. I have two other aunts on that side of the family, but they always lived in apartments, anyway. 😉

    Family gatherings have a very different feel once the location changes from someone’s residence to a commercial establishment like a restaurant.

    Times are changing – faster and faster as time goes on. It used to be that old-timers would fight tooth and nail to stay in their homes and expressed a strong desire to die there. This sentiment doesn’t seems as strong to me these days. More people seem to be willing to look at relocation as they age as a viable option nowadays.

  42. Walter says:

    To Kage–kanten is expensive because they know people will buy it cause they’re to lazy to make it–like me. Also it’s not a regular item to produce. Anyway after spending nearly $8 each on three of them (the local one tasted better than the one from Japan) at Marukai (see earlier post) I’ll make some from scratch for my mom. There doesn’t seem to be a difference in recipes so we’ll see. The shrimp flavored mochi arare (also earlier post) is now drying in the fridge to make it rock hard before frying so in a few weeks hopefully there will be some good eating.

    Thanks Sally for that wonderful story of New Years past. I for one care about those past times. And a good way to keep those memories alive is not only to share them each year but to perhaps adopt a few traditions into your present. Food traditions would always be welcome.

    I didn’t grow up with local New Year traditions being born on the mainland but later in Hawaii got exposed to all the festivities. My mom only started making mochi later and with a machine. Anyway having delivered for HPC Foods for the past 32 years I witnessed the massive amounts of sprouts, tofu, aburage, konnyakku, tsukemono, gobo, hasu, araimo and noodles that the mamasans used to buy for the holidays. ( I mean how much stuff could one use). It’s hard to believe that I would stack several hundred packages of beansprouts on the shelf (with cases more in the back refer) whereas today they’re might be only several dozen . Likewise with our distribution of Kanai and Aloha tofu products and KoKo Brand Takuwan. Over the decades the volume of products shrank and I honestly believe it was due in large to the sad fact that there were no more mamasans to continue the traditions. The demographic of New Year shoppers had changed.

    Time marched on–but not that fast because having been inspired by all of you on this blog my new year tradition is to perfect that arare recipe and to do a mean inari “cone” sushi using the only locally made age by Aloha Tofu. I also would like to slice and lay out my own sashimi. Thanks again Sally and to everyone else for the memories.

  43. HbH says:


    You making me hungry auntie. You make Nishime and cone sushi? God haven’t had in decades. M one blessed bruddah. 🙂

  44. old school says:

    Sally, thanks for allowing us to take a trip down memory lane with you.
    New Year’s eve for us was pretty much all fireworks (almost took out my dad’s eye with a rocket on year; had to take him to ER), as mom started prepping for the next day’s lunch. Menu was quite similar to yours.
    It’s funny, I was telling my daughter just the other day about the long table covered with white paper and held off the ground by mini saw horses that we set up in our “rumpus room.” Great memories.
    Recently, I’ve bought New Year’s lunch from Zippy’s: maki sushi, chicken nishime and konbu maki. I cook, but wouldn’t attempt trying to replicate those dishes. Besides, it’s pretty tasty.

  45. masako says:

    Thanks for the memories Sally! That’s how our New Years was too when the Nisei generation was still around. Sadly they are all gone now. I have kept up the tradition of making Ozoni on New Years morning and a pot of Nishime. I also make cone sushi and open a can of Kuromame.

  46. HbH says:

    Happy New Years guys. Mahalo sally. Sorry guys i don’t remember any amazing new years traditions except living in hawaii and lighting real fireworks. Man i can still remember the long strings of fire crackers being lit and smelling the smell. Its so great to hear the different traditions and thats what made our home great. Aloha guys

  47. Kage says:

    I like kanten. I just do not understand why it is so expensive. 🙂

  48. losthawaiian says:

    Thank you Sally. That was a beautiful story. It brings back a lot of memories from small kid time. We didn’t have all the traditional stuff for the New year but, we sure did grind a lot of ono food. We would stay at our house in Kailua and pop firecrackers on New year’s eve. Since my mom and aunty(lived next door) were excellent cooks, we always had the full spread of food. On New year’s day, we would head out to town and visit all the uncles, aunite’s and cousins in Kapahulu or Moiliili.
    Re- Kanten- I still won’t eat it today. I’m even suspicious before I take a bite of Jello thinking it might have that same taste.

  49. Seawalker says:

    China’s back in the house again. LOL

    So that was grinds on New Year’s eve. Don’t get me wrong, the food doesn’t end there. Pops made it like that 365 days a year. Or maybe he gave us the illusion that everyday was like a feast. In old China, it was either feast or famine. Heaven forbid when there was no rain and all across the plains was just parched rice fields.

    Pops made eating a passion for all of us. Hey, when you’re good at your craft, you could make magic out of just bread and water. I remember one time when we were young and was about to have breakfast. Mom already went to work and pops was Sargent of an army of mouths to feed.

    He only had a loaf of Love’s bread and a box of eggs from Foodland in the refrigerator. Okay, so what does an ordinary father do with just bread and eggs? Hot dang, he makes egg sandwiches no doubt. Not my pops. And never in our household. Mayonnaise was not a condiment of choice growing up for us. So no stinky, sulfuric egg sandwiches for any of us.

    Instead, pops shows us what he learned while cooking for the hotels one day at work. First he cracks about a half dozen eggs in a bowl. He then wisks it together to create a dipping mixture. Next, he cuts the pieces of bread into 2 triangles each. Then he dips the bread into the egg mixture. Into the wok it goes. Next thing you know, presto, you’ve got French toast.

    Those were the memorable days when we were young. Imagine having French toast for breakfast for the first time? Yup, and with pops having his balls to the walls, he whips out a breakfast out of minimum ingredients and to our hearts delight.

    Like what @sally mentioned (and by the way, you look way too cute in that picture, Sister), traditions fade over the years. However, the memories stay with us until we’re ready to take the $6 billion rail to heaven. We came into this world naked and will leave the same way with nary an earthly possession. That is, except we can take a lifetime of memories with us when we leave.

  50. Mark'75 says:

    @KAN: I don’t know where she got the blubber from. It was in the early to mid ’60s and they ate it like a delicacy at New Year’s. I’d just look at it, and pass.

  51. 4G says:

    @Seawalker – 😉

    Re: Sake

    Never mean to leave the wrong impression. Me? I like my sake warm. LOL

  52. Seawalker says:

    @4G – Dude, if you looking for a pick-up b-ball game, check out Holy Trinity gym on Sunday afternoons. Saw a bunch of old-futs lacing it up and doing battle on the court. All those goons had game and could hit the 3’s when needed. But those guys also had beer-guts that made mine look like a washboard. Not!

  53. 4G says:

    Eh, @Seawalker – I never see your post until after I posted my comment.

    Nice story and wow – quite a spread you guys had! 🙂

  54. 4G says:

    Sake – LOL

    Growing up, it was just served warm – no ifs ands or buts. Plus, that’s how they did it in the Samurai movies. 😉 Then, come to find out, that’s cause that’s the junk stuff and you heat it up to make it drinkable. 😉

  55. Seawalker says:

    China’s in the house! LOL

    Japa-knee or Pake, not too much different for the new year traditions in Hawaii. I remember starting the feast right after the midnight string of firecrackers. @Kan is right about having jook at the stroke of midnight. Even before the firecracker smoke cleared, it was time to whack the grinds. My memories growing up was having major, good kind grinds to stuff our faces and then turn in to bed with a belly full of food.

    Dad was a cook, so food was never an issue in our household. The pakes believe the more you grind, the harder you are able to work. Like it was energy for the body. So when you worked hard, you could then make choke money. Granny always told us to drink something hot, like tea to wash down all the food. Something about helping with the digestion. Go figure. But Granny lived to almost a century years-old, so she knew a thing or two about living a long-life.

    So we would first have jook to choose from. Next, I’d go for the Chinese chicken salad. Hey, roughage from the vegetables helps with the plumbing. Ask any plumber if you doubt me. Hehehe. Pops knew a bunch of us loved crab in our household. So he would include crab legs, and, I remember in some years, it was king crab legs–mind you!

    Sometimes we would have roast duck to choose from. It was no ordinary roast duck but the S.F. style kind, so the duck skin was bright red in color. So ono! What else, you might be thinking? Well, dad made abalone with black mushrooms on a bed of lettuce to help balance the meal. Those are just some of the grinds we had. We had much, much more. It must’ve been a superstition to not go to bed on an empty stomach on the last day of the year.

    This New Year’s Eve, I went put flowers on dad’s grave. It’s so hectic during the holidays. Mom always remind us to pay him a visit when we can. It felt good knowing dad had a bunch of flowers in his vase to start the new year. But hey, he did what he could to make us happy growing up. So why not return the favor? Life goes by so fast. In the game of basketball, it’s probably the 4th quarter for me. OT games are seldom. That’s why you have to give it your all when the clock’s still ticking.

  56. KAN says:

    @Mark’75 – where in the WORLD did she get whale blubber from? In Alaska, it’s called “muktuk,” and I had friends who threatened to bring me some.

    I like kanten and yokan too. But maybe once every five years or so. Cold kanten when it’s hot outside is really ono.

  57. Mark'75 says:

    My grandmother used to prepare New Year’s lunch with much of the same Japanese foods, but in addition to what’s already mentioned, she also had whale blubber, but I couldn’t get into that one.

  58. Mark'75 says:

    Hmmm, I must be in the minority…I like kanten! LOL
    and yokan too!

  59. Rodney says:

    This weekend at Shirokiya will be their annual omamori sale. You can bring in your old ones to be burned.

  60. 4G says:

    “To” be good . . . . 😉

  61. 4G says:

    Funny – I had to go all the way to Japan to find out that the omamori was only supposed too be good for one-year. LOL

  62. KAN says:

    @4G: omamori are supposed to be held for one year, then returned to the shrine from which you bought them, where they then burn them. But I have a bunch that I bought as souvenirs in Japan, where returning *all* of them would be a problem.

  63. Sally says:

    There are diff omamoris. Ask the people at your temple.

    This is my understanding (don’t quote me on it lol)

    There are separate ones for every imaginable thing. The car one supposed to be for the lifetime of that car. I don’t know about others like travel, studies, etc.

    I have one that is an overall lifetime one that I keep in my purse always.

    The other one that I buy is the house “pkg”. It includes a separate one for:
    – Kitchen
    – Bathroom
    – Fire
    – Good Fortune
    – Front door
    – Back door
    – Family Protection
    – Wallet

    This is the one that gets changed out every year. You need to collect them all and return them to the temple to be blessed and (I think) burned.

    Another one that I get is the prediction one, which is tells you what kind of year you are going to have. This year mine was “Not-So-Good” so these are the ones you take outside and tie the paper fortune to the tree for blessing.

    I don’t think I will do this one anymore, it never was what it said, even when I had the “Very-Good-Year” one. LOL

  64. 4G says:

    I never knew omamori is only good for one-year. I had one from my first car from a great-aunt. I must have held on to that guy for over ten-years! LOL.

  65. Kage says:

    I tried to make kazunoko one year because I was craving it. FAIL. I thought I soaked and changed the water enough. It was like eating salt.

  66. Kage says:

    Mahalo @sally for the written memory. I too share similar memories about New Year traditional foods. Mom did not go to temple with us so I never knew exactly where the omamori in her car came from.

    The only food I have not had since Mom passed 30 years ago is the konbu. She used to slice it thin, mix with shoyu and other ingredients for the sauce, and added a few dried ebi. Not sure if it was ever cooked since we ate it cold.

  67. Sally says:

    Kazunoko? Go sushi bar. Even Genki Sushi!

  68. 4G says:

    I haven’t seen Kazunoko in ages.

  69. 4G says:

    “Kanten – just like Jello-O”

    LOL – I think we were all told that. NOT!!!

    Not even close – okay, maybe the strawberry one – but even that was a bit of stretch. 😉

  70. Sally says:

    Thank you, KAN, for the listing of food symbolisms. I am keeping it in my recipe notes.

    New Year Day meal has whittled down to one brother and his wife and son, and my cousin and her daughter that live in the back house.

    We do nothing formal, this year it was Shrimp Linguine with whatever side dishes we bring. My cousin always still brings the kuromame (black beans) and we all have a bit of it.

    I also go to the temple for my blessing and omamori for the house.

  71. KAN says:

    Sally, my New Year’s memories are similar. New Year’s Eve was always spent at my mom’s parent’s place. Grandpa worked for Armour Meats and had connections, so he always got a prime rib from Haiku Gardens for New Year’s Eve. All the aunties (and a few uncles) were good cooks, so the range of potluck food for NYE was always fantastic. Mom and I would go over early to help clean and prep. Uncles (and one aunty) would play penny-ante poker in the garage. The kids would run around and play firecrackers. My mom always made jook for after midnight (I don’t know how/when that started–we’re not Chinese).

    New Year’s Day meant a trip to Kaimuki for Dad’s side. The oldest son (nisei generation) hosted, and that Aunty cooked all night and into the morning. That’s where we had all the traditional food – kombu (kelp, which sounds like “yorokobu,” to be joyful, for happiness), mame (beans, for good health), tai (red snapper, sounds like “medetai,” or auspicious), mochi (sounds like the verb “to have” so you would not be poor or wanting in the New Year), kazu no ko (fish roe, sounds like “number of children” so you would be, ahem, fertile), plus sake, because, well, it’s sake! Plus all the other “Western”-kine food – ham, potato salad, fruit salad, jello, pie, cake–I’m getting hungry thinking about all of this!

    All of that generation is gone now. I don’t think anyone in my family does osechi ryoori any more. I think I’m one of the few in the family who cleans before New Years, and that was a tradition I adopted after living in Japan for a year – I didn’t grow up with it.

    My cousin (my generation, yonsei) hosts the New Year’s Day celebration now, to give the sansei a rest from the main cooking/cleaning responsibilities. I wonder how much the gosei generation will retain the traditions.

  72. dihudfan says:

    Thanks Sally for your memories, I also have the same… Our home wuz the party center, cuz my grandmother lived there… and like you, I never appreciated any of this… my mom and next door aunty worked and slaved over the stove all day long… none of my other uncles and aunties ever contributed… only ate and took home the left overs… after marriage, spent minimal time with my family, mostly with the inlaws… and eventually not at all… really miss those get togethers, now… to bad no can go back in time, only our memories…

  73. Sally says:

    @Mark’75 yes, that’s the one!

    @Alan Osechi is the word I was trying to remember. I never knew that presentation of food had a name.

    I did help with breaking up that stick of kanten stick for my mom. That was the greatest fakeout ever! She said “It’s like Jello”.

    It is NOTHING like Jello! lol I felt so deceived when I bit into it, I have never eaten kanten since! *blech*

  74. Sally says:

    New Year traditions ran strong in our generation. Everything involved had a meaning. Each food dish had to be eaten with a purpose (good health, long life, prosperity, etc). Even the fireworks were to ward off bad spirits/energy. Then you weren’t supposed to clean up the rubbish until first thing the next morning, a task that belonged to my three brothers.

  75. Alan says:

    Yes, Sally, I remember those traditions and the gotso for New Years. I have not partaken of any of those incredible food items for at least 20 years now, including not having ozoni too. Part of the reason for my not enjoying those feast items is that I moved away from Hawaii for career purposes in 1983, but also, the older family members have all passed on. My father’s family had six brothers and sisters all living in Honolulu. My oldest uncle would always host the feasts for Xmas Eve (including the gift exchanging) and New Year’s Eve (including the strings of firecrackers for midnight). One of my Auntie’s would host the Xmas Day luncheon with sushi and super-supreme saimin (with lots of stuff for toppings). My mother would host the families ozoni get together for New Year’s day, and my other Auntie would host the New Years day football game watching party with all the Osechi foods galore. How I miss that. Thank you for the memories!!

  76. Mark'75 says:

    Oh, not only smaller, but cut at an angle?

  77. Mark'75 says:

    @Sally: Beautiful memories. That bologna ring thing, was it like bologna, only smaller in diameter?
    BTW, nice Chevy in the background!

  78. 4G says:

    Nice story, @Sally.- good read; thank you! 🙂

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