After posting my epic Part 1 and Part 2 of the 2010 recap, (which you SHOULD read, if you haven't already, because it took me a lot of time to write that), I put on the exact same shirt I wore on the first day of 2010...
Me, 1st of January, 2010, with Maiko the Producer and a Japanese traditional Lion, in front of her house
Me, 1st of January, 2010, when bumped into HK actor Roger Kwok at Shinjuku
And headed off to Tsukui, Kanagawa, to spend my new year with Maiko The Producer's family, just like I did last year. I thought it would make a nice symmetry, celebrating new year the same way, and starting and ending the year with the same shirt. It brought me luck anyway.
However, the slight difference this time is that the living room has been taken over by Maiko's dog Kevin. Kevin's 14, been pretty sick, so they let him stay inside instead.
Kevin's a sad-looking dog.
I also don't remember having sushi the last time I was here.
We were to have dinner (and watch TV) at a smaller study room next to the living room. Last time, I slept in this study room.
We started dining.
The sukiyaki with raw egg, which I also had last year, was one of the most delicious things in the world.
There was also Tempura.
And then, Kohaku begins. (to the uninitiated, Kohaku is Kōhaku Uta Gassen 紅白歌合戦, an annual music show by NHK where the most popular music artists of the year would come and perform, Red Team for female artistes, White Team for male artistes)
Since I had just gotten an iPhone 2 days earlier, I decided to tweet the thing. (yup, you can follow me on Twitter)
The show ended half an hour before midnight. White Team won again, despite the oversaturization of AKB48. It's a 6-year streak. (they won 8 out of 10 times in the past decade).
We then waited for the clock to strike 12.
Had an intense game of BEWARE OF THE DOG (it's a variation of Crocodile Dentist).
Unlike the dog in the boardgame, the dog in the house, Kevin, was much more quieter and docile. I had a legendary fear of dogs, because I can't stand the sound of their barking, or the way the bare their teeth. I always wonder which would have rabies, or which would suddenly just jump at me and rip my beautiful face off. I had many flashbacks of horrific news of people attacked by dogs.
Here's Kanako (Maiko's younger sis) with Kevin.
As it was closer to 2011, Maiko's mom started serving soba.
Last year, I fell asleep halfway during Kohaku and woke up only a few minutes before the New Year, I guess it's probably because I was still tired from the EXHALATION shoot. I was glad that this time I was awake for the whole experience.
It's a quiet and peaceful way to end the year, and also to welcome a new one. Can't ask for a better countdown.
Maiko's cat Oli was relaxing then. Oblivious to the passage of time. Or perhaps merely indifferent.
As for Kevin...
After Maiko played with him.
He pooped on the floor.
I shrieked like a girl.
The next day, I had the traditional New Year meal, just like last year. Mochi Soup and Osechi.
So I had my first meal of 2011.
The postman arrived with a large stack of New Year greeting cards for the family.
Meanwhile, under the table, Oli tried to sleep.
Moments later, it was time to leave. We had bought tickets to catch the 2:30pm show of Space Battleship Yamato, starring Takuya Kimura. Had to take the train back to Shinjuku...
I felt a slight tinge of regret that I was unable to have my hatsumode (first shrine visit) at the Tsukui Kannon Zen temple on the hills nearby, like I did the year before.
But then, not everything should be repetitious.
(UPDATED 6th of January, 2011: What really happened was that I woke up an hour and a half later than planned because my iPhone alarm clock didn't work. I initially didn't know what the hell happened until just now, when I read the news that it was a New Year glitch that happened to iPhone users worldwide. Checked it out on BBC and New York Times. This came to my attention when the same thing happened to NBA star Pau Gasol causing him to miss practice.)
I sat and waited. I was to return to my life, after having not shot a short film since August, I was itching to return to a film set again.
Returning to the place where I felt most at ease with myself.
I heard the light sounds of Kanako typing on the computer keyboard from the living room nearby, and the clicking sounds of the mouse.
2011 had started, and aside from doing an inevitable short film, it is also time for me to go back to working on my feature-length debut. I will be looking for co-producers, for funding, looking for hope that I can start the film as soon as I can.
In two more days, Maiko would leave for Osaka again, back to her job in NHK as the assistant director of the morning drama TEPPAN in NHK.
In less than a month, her last collaboration with me, the short film EXHALATION, will finally have its European premiere at the Rotterdam International Film Festival.
More than a year had passed since I shot EXHALATION.
Life was simpler then.
In front of me, Maiko was playing with Oli. Quietly, I switched on my camera.
Where will I be, a year from now?
It wasn't a question of existential despair, just one of genuine curiosity.