Today was a day of firsts. My first lie-in of the New Year was instantly followed by my first pangs of guilt at not getting up until gone 11:00. This was swiftly followed by my first feelings of mortality as I was reminded of the imminent fact of my ageing, which of course was synonymous with my first neuroticism of the year; 2011 was indeed off to a cracking start. In the afternoon Tom, Martin, Jesse, and I headed to the small Daita Hachiman Shrine located near Setagaya-Daita station (about 5 minutes from my house), where we gave thanks for the New Year that was ahead of us. Martin and I also tied yesterday’s bad fortunes to a tree in the shrine which effectively makes them null and void. Although as I had managed to lose my actual fortune somewhere between my house and the shrine, I had to make do with tying a pseudo version (i.e. a random piece of paper) to the tree, as such I am still a little conscious of my susceptibility to contagious diseases.
In the evening Tom, Martin, and I headed to Shimokitazawa, where we wandered around looking for a place that sold soba (buckwheat) noodles, as these are traditionally eaten on New Year’s Day here in Japan. After receiving our first piece of misinformation this year from a shoe vendor (of all people), who told us that the nearest soba restaurant was about a kilometre out of town, we found a small Izakaya (Japanese bar) where we had a feast of soba, octopus, and buttered oysters all for the low price of ¥1700. In one fell swoop I had thus eaten my first hot meal, and bagged my first bargain of the year, making me also feel like a true Yorkshire man for the first time in 2011.