Purpose one: writing a travelogue to describe my various trips.

Purpose two: muse.

Monday, January 31, 2011

Japanese New Year

Above is a short video I took outside of Yasaka Jingu shrine, just a minute or two before midnight on New Year's eve. It was a different experience for me. The crowd was full of anticipation, while still calm and all I heard was chatting from all corners. There was a big woo at midnight, then we left. It was a challenge moving through the pack, but luckily we had another group breaking trail for us.

These are some pictures of the shrine from earlier in the evening, when we had a chance to go in and explore a bit. As usual with religious sites in Asia, inside was a mix of commercial booths and various chapels where people were revering.

We also saw this little chapel in another part of town. This one was in the middle of a retail area, the hutong maze of Kyoto. I am getting the sense that the line between spiritual worship and appeals to temporal fortune is very much blurred. This particular spot was designed as if its purpose was religious, and I understood it to be built and maintained by monks. Yet, the way people approached and acted here, and the way Naho talked about it, it seemed more secular in nature. Its location in between all the shops makes sense, since it is dedicated to fortune and prosperity.

Our meal on the morning of New Year day. Of all the terrific meals I have in Japan, on a repeat basis now, this one still stood out. I like exploring what is in the various bowls -- the lids add to the mystery!