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Amparo Bertram

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10:16 pm: White New Year
We got our first...and, I guess last...snow of the year today in Moriyama. Snow is expected across the whole country today, some places projected to get up to two feet (though not my area).

I stayed holed up in my living room pretty much all day, though I did venture out to do some cooking. I figured out how to read "agar" in Japanese and picked some up at the local grocery store recently, so today I tried making chocolate pudding/jelly with it. I didn't stir it well enough, so it had some lumps in it, but otherwise it didn't turn out too badly. I'll have to try other flavors sometime.

I currently have the Kouhaku song competition on in the background while I try to stay awake a while longer. Kouhaku means "red/white"--as one might guess from the Japanese flag, these are very symbolic colors here. Whenever a group breaks up into two opposing teams, one is the "red" team and the other is the "white" team. This "red versus white" song competition is a New Year's Eve tradition going back over fifty years; it pits female singers (the red team) against male singers (the white team). It runs from 7:30pm until 11:45pm, and practically everyone watches it. It's really fascinating to see all the different styles of music (not to mention the costumes) that are currently popular here.

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