As New year celebrations continue throughout Japan, a gaijin this week has been escaping from the home of his in-laws in search of better food.
Simon Poulter has spent the coming of the New Year at his wife’s family home for the last three years, and has come to the end of his tether with the traditional fare on offer.
“My wife’s family are great,” Poulter said today from a park bench near the family home. “They love me to bits: my mother-in-law won’t let me lift a finger, and my father-in-law plies me with whiskey at all hours of the day. But I can’t face another mouthful of cold osechi. It’s just foul.”
Each afternoon Poulter dons his sports gear, laces up his running shoes and tells his family that he is going for a jog. However, rather than putting himself through a 10-km run, he heads to the local Domino’s, orders a meat feast and sits on a park bench gorging himself on pizza.
“Of course I feel guilty about it, and I suppose I should just tell them, but I don’t want to hurt their feelings. Osechi is such an intrinsic element of the Japanese new year, but if I told them that I didn’t like it then they would probably stop buying it just to please me. That would just be too awful, so I have to keep it secret.”
“Actually none of us like osechi,” said Mai Nishida, Poulter’s mother-in-law. “We only did it for the first time that he came because we wanted him to experience a real Japanese New Year.
“However, when on the third day he came home from his ‘jog’ with tomato sauce around his lips we knew where he had been.”
“The funny thing is that I follow Simon on Strava and I see his ‘runs’ to Dominos online,” said Ryo Nishida, Poulter’s father-in-law. “I wanted to tell him that it’s fine, but Mai-chan thought it would be funnier not to tell him.
“Now, we order some great Kobe beef and gorge ourselves every time he goes on a run. For me it’s the best time of the year!”
Poulter is, of course, none the wiser:
“I imagine that it would kill them to know that I do not enjoy their traditions, but it can’t be helped. I can’t face another cold prawn.”
“We should tell him really,” continued Ryo, “but then again, it’s all the more beef for me!”