• 01 . 01 . 05
  • New Year in Japan is celebrated more widely than Christmas. I step outside and see what people are up to.

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Akemashita Omedetou


Happy New Year everyone! Hope all your (good) wishes come true, wherever you are in the world. The majority of people here go to shrines on New Year’s Day and seeing as Gifu-Prefecture’s largest shrine is about 500m away from my apartment, I figured I should go and see what went on. What went on, in fact, was that thousands of people walked up the mountain to throw coins into a chest inside the shrine, bought a fortune (and randomly an arrow, as in an archery arrow), did a bit of praying and then went down again.

It might have been rude to go there and take pictures, but I did anyway and no-one seemed to mind. Of course, like Christmas in England, the majority of Japanese don’t actually believe in it as a religious festival anymore and it’s more just like a traditional family day out. Literally thousands of people and lots of stalls lining the shrine approach almost made it seem like a carnival. I stopped short of praying though, because it would be have been ironic to do it here and not back home, but I did through my ¥50 coin in and it’s bound to make somebody happy even if I didn’t notice the change…

Tomorrow, Hakuba for snowboarding

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