We had a nice Japanese-style New Year's at home in San Diego. After cleaning the house from top-to-bottom (known as Osoji or "big cleaning"), we settled down to watch to watch the 60th annual Kohaku, the "red-and-white song battle" that pits the top male and female J-POP singers against each other in a competition to see which team can put on the best show, which was broadcast on the Japanese channel our cable company offers. The Kohaku show is more than just the best J-POP event of the year, it's also a bit of entertainment history, and everyone from AKB48 to Jero to Ayumi Hamasaki is there each year. (Fans of J-List's prepaid iTunes Japan cards can browse this year's Kohaku music on iTunes via this link.) After the Kohaku show it was time for Yuku Toshi, Kuru Toshi (Year Going, Year Coming), a show that broadcasts solemn images of people making their way to beautiful Shinto shrines, Buddhist temples, Christian churches and Muslim mosques to do hatsu-mode (ha-tsu MOH-day), the first prayer of the New Year, overlaid with the sound of a bell thhttp://www.math.nus.edu.sg/aslaksen/pictures/horoscopes-s.jpgat chimes 108 times, a Buddhist tradition tied to the 108 temptations that mankind is subject to. Happy New Year!
Some of the best bands in Japan (and South Korea) performed at Kohaku 60.