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WIT Life #16: Home for the Holidays

WITLife is a periodic series written by professional Interpreter/Translator/Writer Stacy Smith (Kumamoto-ken, 2000-03).  In her recent posts, she’s been watching the news in Japanese and sharing some of the interesting tidbits and trends together with her own observations.

Today’s news discussed Japanese travel trends during the New Year’s holiday, and it turns out that 2.87 million people passed through Tokyo’s domestic Haneda Airport during this time. Many were taking part in what’s called the u-turn rush, or the phenomenon of people returning to Tokyo and other big cities from their hometowns at the end of a holiday season. According to the survey, 84% were u-turning and 16% were coming back from places like Guam and South Korea where they could take advantage of the strong yen. This piece did a check of what kind of omiyage people had received from their families. A young man from Okinawa had two large cheesecakes his mother had baked for him. A man from Kagoshima held lobsters he had gotten from a local fisherman. Two families from Kumamoto (my old stomping ground) were interviewed, one with 60 packs of age (fried bean curd) and the other with a suitcase holding umeboshi (pickled plums), katsuobushi (dried bonito), leftover mochi and carrots from their parents’ garden. Another woman lugged home a printer, explaining that her parents no longer used it and why let it go to waste? The final subject profiled had a suitcase filled with 50 types of omiyage ranging from miso to senbei that weighed almost 80 pounds! Her mother lovingly showed the checklist she used to make sure that nothing had been forgotten. I thought my habit of raiding my parents’ house for paper goods was one I needed to break, but compared to the loot Japanese families carry home I don’t feel so bad anymore.

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