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January 01, 2007

Happy New Year

Well, after 18 months of writing a blog you would think I could come up with a better title for this entry! But, we were out until 4am last night, so you have to cut me a little slack.

I met up with Nuala and Laura and we had a fantastic time.

Things kicked off around 9pm with a few snacks and drinks at my new place. I was a bit worried that Japanese TV would let me down, but we found a countdown show that featured Japanese men wearing loinclothes being chased down so that tails could be pinned to them. Absolutely brilliant and in line with my expectations for quality TV.

At midnight, we went over to the local shrine (Tenshin Jinja) and rang the bell. It was very cool and I wish I had some pictures, but my camera battery died as soon as we left the apartment. Ugh. Anyway, there was hardly a line at all and we reckon our turn at the bell rang in the new year, so that was very cool. It was surprisingly personal, with maybe ten people in line or watching and two priests there to watch over things.

We celebrated that by spending some time near the kerosene heater drinking champagne and taking pictures with various groups of locals that came by.

All of that was merely a prelude to the real plan: a visit to Meiji Shrine in Harajuku. This is the most visited shrine in Japan over the holiday period (or one of the top three...Laura told me twice, but my brain was soaked with alcohol), so it is a major undertaking. BUT WELL WORTH IT!!!

First of all, the streets around the entrance are all closed down...and with all the neighbourhood stores closed to, it seemed like a completely different place. The road from Meiji Dori to the temple entrance was lined with stands selling the typical holiday fare and there was already quite a crowd of people walking around.

Having taken care of our bell-ringing duties in my neighbourhood, we did not need to wait in line to see the actual shrine itself (for those of you familiar with Meiji Shrine, it was already back to the sake wall at 1am). Instead, we detoured to all the stands, shops and boothes catering to the post-prayer crowd, drank a bottle of rose, and watched everyone enjoying themselves.

Sometime around 3am, sanity prevailed and we headed home. Well, after a brief stop at Choco Cro, possibly the best place in Tokyo to drink your first coffee of the year. Then again, I love Choco Cro, so I might be a bit biased.

I have charged up my camera and I will call Laura soon to see if she wants to brave the crowds one more time so I can get some pictures.

Posted by Kirk on January 1, 2007 12:39 PM