new year's day

So i caught a stomach bug and spent New Year's Eve ill. Not my ideal way to ring in the New Year, but as I didn't have anyone in Tokyo to kiss, I suppose it was just as well that I missed it.

I think I've mentioned that New Year's is the big holiday in Japan. Seriously big. They close the country down from December 28 - January 5. Everyone makes a pilgrimage to a shrine, preferably one of the big ones. K&D live a couple blocks from the side entrance to the Meiji Shrine, which is the biggest one in Tokyo. The actual shrine is beautiful, but the grounds are more impressive. Acres upon acres of wooded and open space.

Japan does public space really well. It's one of the reasons that you don't feel all that crowded in Tokyo. There seems to be a park or a shrine everywhere you turn.

Back to New Year's. The Meiji Shrine, as the biggest in the city, is also the most popular. Millions of people go for midnight (seriously, millions). We headed over the next afternoon. It was still insane.

When you're at a shrine, you toss a 5 yen piece into these carved wooden boxes and say a prayer/wish. (The abridged version.) Because of the sheer numbers, they'd done away with the boxes and put down plastic sheeting and barriers. You were supposed to push as far forward as you could and then throw the money. In the picture, the money pit is under the string with paper dangling.



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