Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Akemashite Omedetou Gozaimasu (Happy New Year)!

I'm proud to say that we made it through 2011 in one piece. The year had so many ups, downs, happy times and sad times.  The great thing about having a New Year is a fresh start!
Kanpai 2012!
New Year's is a very celebratory time in Japan.  Typically between January 1-3 the Japanese will visit a shrine or temple for Hatsumode. This tradition allows people to say good wishes for the upcoming year, plus you are able to purchase a slew of charms, or omamori.

We were outside at Midnight on New Years and heard the bell at our neighborhood shrine.  Many people in our neighborhood were heading to the shrine to welcome the New Year.  We also decided to check it out and I'm glad we did.  It was very festive at the shrine with fires were burning in pits (also see the picture on the page), sake, people in traditional dress, and omamori.  I'm so happy we had the pleasure of participating in this annual ritual. 

Ritual of clapping, bell ringing and bowing.
Yesterday, a friend and I went to Kamakura where Hatsumode was still going on at The Tsurugaoka Hachiman-gu shrine.  I think there were more people there yesterday, than when we visited it last year during this time.  It was a beautiful, crisp sunny day to visit this lovely shrine.  We are looking forward to this New Year and what it will bring!

People walking to and from shrine.

A spectacular view.

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