Saturday, January 17, 2009

New Year's Visit to the Temple

Now, we in  America love our New Years Eve. The staying up all night, the champagne, the fireworks. But in Japan this is a two week plus affair. The first through third is day to go to the shrine. Though, some people stayed up til midnight at the shrine to eat soba at midnight and hear them ring the bell.We however went to the shrine on the 2nd, it's appearently less crowded then the first. We still stood in a line around the block, and the police were leading us up the stairs to the shrine. This is the most importent time to visit the shrine and ask for luck in the coming year, so not many miss out on it.Up top was a particularily fancy New Year's charm (for lack of a better word). For about a week people have been buying these decorative pieces made of twisted straw, pine branches, oranges and other assorted plant materials and decorative paper. They hang them on the doors and gates of homes and bussinesses, and on the 14th bring them to the shrine and make a donation. Then they make a bonfire out of the whole pile. I love religions that involve making noise and burning stuff.After coming down from the shrine we wade through a street of vendors selling traditional yummies. It is almost required that people buy a box of sweet mochi treats. Mochi is considered lucky to eat for new years, so it is featured in every meal for about a week. Unfortuneately they were not making mochi at that shrine, but it is quite an immpressive show.

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