Happy New Year 2024!

Earthquake and tsunami on Japan’s west coast

Although I initially intended this post to be a cheerful one, I can’t completely ignore what happened a few hours ago.

Around 16:00, we experienced a light earthquake here in Tokyo, but it took only a few minutes for us to learn that it was quite a big one on the Japanese west coast, causing material damage and a dangerous tsunami.

The images bring back bad memories of the 2011 Tohoku earthquake and tsunami, and we can only wish that everyone stays safe and that damage will be minimal.

Dusting this old blog to wish a happy new year to all the people I love!

May 2024 bring you all happiness and abundance!

Greeting card

This year’s New Year greeting card is a picture we took at our future home’s groundbreaking ceremony, called jichinsai (地鎮祭) in Japanese. Yuko’s parents and their dog, Blanc, joined us for the celebration.

This is what the card says:

Happy New Year! In the summer of this year, we’re moving to Nishi-Karuizawa! Please come by and visit us. Last December, we went to the groundbreaking ceremony with [Yuko’s] parents and Blanc the dog.

2024, the continuation of 2023

2023 was kind of a busy year for Yuko and I, and 2024 will be even more, as the continuation and culmination of projects we started in 2023 (and earlier).

Baby’s coming soon!

Starting with the most important news, my wife Yuko got pregnant! We’re expecting a little girl by the end of March!

Entering her third trimester, Yuko’s healthy, though getting tired more easily.

As for me, I’m a bit nervous but very excited at the idea of welcoming our first baby and building a family!

We’re building a house in the country side!

This is a project we’ve been looking at for years, on and off, but last summer we took a huge step, visiting a few plots of land and getting in touch with a few architects and house builders.

I became the owner of a small plot of land in Miyota (close to Karuizawa, in the Nagano prefecture) back in December, and expect the house construction to start later this month.

Getting a car

I’ve made it 13 years without owning a car in Japan, as living in Tokyo rarely required one, occasionally renting one for road trips or convenience.

However, as we’ll be living in the country side (with a baby!), owning a car will become necessary.

We decided to buy an electric vehicle while in Tokyo in order to benefit from some EV-related subsidies (and because I was not interested in owning a car with a combustion engine), and the process was quite complex, but we should be getting the “keys” later this month.

This is the first car I buy myself (well, technically, Yuko did), and I’m kind of excited to get my hands behind the wheel!


Working at Shopify got me to travel to Montréal last January then Amsterdam back in October, giving me the opportunity to meet my coworkers in person, and to attend the RailsWorld conference.

I even managed to travel to my hometown twice, meeting long-time friends, and telling my family about the pregnancy in person!

I don’t expect to travel as much in 2024, obviously, though I hope we’ll travel as a family back to my hometown for Christmas next year.

First day of the year

Visit to the shrine

In the New Year, in Japan, people do their first visit to the shrine (初詣 - hatsu-mōde).

Yuko and I woke up relatively early and managed to step out the door before noon, heading to Musashino Hachimangū (武蔵野八幡宮).

As one can expect in Japan, people were lining up to get a chance to pray (or make a wish, depending) at the top of the stairs in front of the main shrine.

We waited about 20 minutes in the cold before we could do so, then we drew our o-mikuji (fortune slip).

We were delighted to both draw a dai-kichi (大吉) slip, the highest rank of good fortune, sign of a great year to come! (And with what’s awaiting us this year, we’ll take all the good fortune we can!)


O-zōni, o-sechi

Back home, we had the traditional new year meal: o-sechi ryōri (お節料理) and o-zōni (お雑煮).

The former is usually an assorted platter of traditional Japanese foods prepared in ways to last longer, stored in stacked boxes. This year, we went for a Japanese/Chinese/Western assortment.

The latter is a clear soup, based on dashi (fish/kelp broth) with vegetables and grilled mochi (rice cake).

Lunch O-zōni O-sechi

I enjoyed this very typical Japanese New Year, and hope for everyone around the world, family and friends, close and (especially) far are having a great day too and will have a great year!