Before we got to eat the wonderful dinner however, we had to thoroughly clean the house. From top to bottom. It's also an old tradition (called ōsōji) to welcome the new year in with a clean house. It's a bit old-school, and I have to say, hard work... but then again, it adds to the sense of a family day as everyone gets involved.
This New Years was going to be especially meaningful for a number of reasons. One of the main reasons why we were back in Japan again was because T-chan's grandfather (ojiichan) had become very sick. T-chan's family had renovated their garage into a small apartment for him (rather than living in an old-age facility). He was really not well - and whilst we didn't talk about it, we knew this was likely to be his last New Years. He had been in hospital for a while before I had arrived, and had been given permission to be discharged for the weekend to be with family. I had met ojiichan first on my previous trip, and he had come to our pre-wedding party at the Grand Hotel. He was one of these indomitable characters that still had a great deal of life even in the direst of circumstances.