We spent this new year, as is our custom, in Kamakura. We helped to toll the joya-no-kane bell at our favorite hillside temple. At a little shrine under a steep, wooded cliff, we made our ritual hatsumode obeisances. And then, needless to say, we feasted in auspicious style.

We slurped hearty toshikoshi soba noodles, rolled and chopped by hand. We sipped piping-hot amazake, the sweet, slightly cloying flavor of the malted rice balanced by a judicious sprinkle of powdered cinnamon. We grilled mochi (sticky rice) that was still warm and pliable, fresh from being pounded at Okuni, a long-established wagashi shop. And we imbibed resinous taruzake decanted straight from the barrel, with which we toasted friends and strangers alike.

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