The end of the year draws near.

Ever since I’ve lived in Japan, I’ve always enjoyed celebrating New Year’s Eve in a quiet (and what I think is a relatively traditional) way. It’s late in the afternoon, and my wife is preparing lots of good food for dinner — in years past we’ve often just picked up a feast from the Seibu depachika, but this year we decided to cook instead.

The evening usually goes this way: We start eating (and drinking) as NHK’s Kohaku kicks off the evening of TV programming. The Eve is a ratings bonanza for all the networks, and they all have very big specials that run through the night. In years past I’ve given myself the duty of live tweetingKohaku, but I don’t think I’ll do that this year.

But you never know.

When it gets to about an hour or so before the changeover, we slurp up some soba, as is the tradition. After midnight, we head out to one of our local shrines or temples for a New Year “prayer,” bringing the pooch along.

The next couple of days are then filled with eating, drinking, relaxing in the futon, while reading, gaming, and watching various things on TV (or on my iPad). It’s also fun walking around the neighborhood during this time — it’s really the only time of the year that the city really shuts down.

So let’s end this year, and see you on the other side.