Besides Christmas, THIS-IS-MY-ABSOLUTE-FAVORITE-TIME to be home!! A few days before the actual new year it is tradition for Japanese families to come together early in the morning to pound rice to make mochi for the coming year. I looked forward to this as a child every year! Imagine being excited to wake up before the sun– usually before 5 am to start the process of mochi pounding!

On the day itself is the time to eat buckwheat soba, ozoni (mochi soup) and nishime for “good luck” which my grandma used to make. I learned that the soba dish has the name TOSHIKOSHI which means “year-passing” that symbolizes the year that has passed. Hence it became tradition to eat at this time! And the eve of… get ready for the most exuberant display of fireworks. They start long before midnight and will go on for hours past. Honestly, there’s nothing better to me than making it home for New Year’s.