Friday, January 2, 2009

Happy New Year!

Happy New Year everyone!

Turns out new years eve is kind of a quiet event in Japan, where clubs and bars in the states usually charge $60+ for the privileged of counting down their bars wher bars and clubs in Japan have no cover. In fact they have drink specials, and this makes sense because everyone is either at home watching television and eating rice cakes with their family or at a shrine getting ready to say a prayer or wish for a good year.

I ended up going to a shrine at Osu Kannon with a couple of friends and coworkers. Unfortunately, I don't have photos from midnight, but here is the shrine earlier in the day.Basically, we showed up here about 11:40pm and was about 1 hour from the alter. When midnight struck everyone clapped their hands but maintained their place in line. At this time, the shrine started to ring a large bell and chant (but not really chanting, it was over a PA system). Around 1:50am, I found myself in front of the shrine, threw some change in the collection box and made a quick wish, there were some police off to the side asking people not to take so long.After making the prayer, we hustled down the left side of the stair case and made our way to a tent where the shrine was serving food and sake.

January 1st is a very big day in Japan, everyone who was at home visits the main shrine in their city, and everyone who was at a shrine the night before gets up and goes again. In Nagoya, this shrine is called Atsuta, and is located about 8km from where I live. I was told about 1 million people go, so I biked down there to check it out and it turns out their was about a million people their.This is main entrance to the shrine and this is as far as I got. I had my bike with me, and it looked like you have to follow a fixed path around the shrine that would take hours. So, I decided to hop back on my bike and travel around Nagoya a little bit. Here are people waiting in line at a smaller shrine.Then near my apartment is a temple called Nittaiji. These photos were taken a few days ago during a run, I guess this temple is a preset from Thailand.Below is the front entrance.Not as crowded as Atsuta, but still really busy on new years day. For my new years day bike ride, I ended up lost and after riding towards Toyahashi found this sign back to Nagoya.When I saw this sign, I thought to myself, "wow, how close am I to the airport?" Because the airport is no where near where I live. I ended up turning left on 59 and in the end, my bike ride was about 30 miles but I found my way home.

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