As this terrible year is mercifully drawing to a close, Tokyo has whipped itself into its annual December frenzy. Stores are packed with people scarfing up armloads of overpriced seasonal goods, most of which look better than they taste. It used to be that everything shut down for the year-end; central meat/fish/veg/fruit markets closed until the 5th of January, so stores were also closed and we had to stock up enough food for the duration. That isn’t necessary anymore, but I guess old habits are hard to break.
In addition to the shopping mania, the streets are decorated with bamboo, pine branches, braided straw and little puddles of masticated noodles. From about mid-December, the tradition is to go out with colleagues or friends, drink too much, eat ramen and then barf it up on the way home. If you don’t manage to hold it until you’re out of the station, it’s commonly referred to as “platform pizza”.
Charming, right? I won’t include a picture. You’re welcome.
The holiday craziness also brings out the worst in people. As the year-end hype builds up, people get impatient, pushy, outright rude. As an example, it is common train courtesy that if you are standing and the person sitting in front of you gets up, you get first option on their seat. Well, my friend Soness lives way out by the beach and was recently riding the train into town. She’d been standing up for about 45 minutes when the person in front of her got off the train. As she was preparing to sit, a man in a suit shoved her out of the way and took the seat. Now, Soness is no mere mortal. Without the blink of an eye, she turned around and sat in his lap. Horrified (and hopefully ashamed), he jumped up and let her sit down. You go, girl.
All in all, 2012 had some great moments but was a pretty awful year, not as bad as 2011, but awful in its own unique ways. Good-bye 2012. I won’t miss you. Let’s raise a glass to 2013 kicking your ass.