Tokyo New Year is very quiet. No fireworks, no shouting, and the city streets look like a ghost town. It is the time when most of the locals go to their hometowns. While most of the people try to find a more festive ambiance outside the city or country, we on the other hand enjoy its solitude. It is a good time for us to visit some places without worrying about the crowd or traffic jams.
Tokyo New Year in Monzen-Nakacho
For the past years since we started living in Nishi-Kasai, my husband and I try to do some Japanese traditions to welcome the new year. We have experienced biking to Kasai Rinkai Park very early in the morning to catch the first sunrise. This year, we went to Tomioka Hachimangu Shrine in Monzen-Nakacho to celebrate the occasion. It has been a tradition for Japanese people to visit the shrine at midnight of December 31st. They patiently wait for their opportunity to pray in front of the gods and ring the bell for good fortune.
Around 10:30 pm when we left home and biked our way to Monzen-Nakacho. It was almost just us on the road. It took us more or less 45 minutes to reach the shrine. There were already quite a number of people waiting. Most of them are having some food and drinks from the different stalls within the area.
We made a small walk around before we headed to the shrine’s main hall. I felt like a child visiting a festival with all the food on display. There were also some stalls where kids and adults can play some games.
Twenty minutes before midnight, we decided to enter the shrine compound. This time, I was able to take a better view of the precious portable shrine. The line in front of the main hall started to become longer by the minute. We did not fall in line because we are from a different religion. Instead we went to the side and waited.
Welcoming 2017 at Tomioka Shrine
The moment the clock stroke midnight, influx of people ran to the main hall to be the first to offer prayers and ring the bell. As for us, we decided to go home right after our new year greetings to avoid stampede. With us is a Japanese wooden arrow which is believed to ward off misfortunes and bad spirits and attract good luck.
Exploring New Places
With the sun shining bright and the weather quite warm today, we made a walk in the nearby city just across our area. Inspired by a Japanese drama, we tried to find Sunamachi Ginza – a shopping street with a lot of small stores. Before heading to Sunamachi Ginza, we passed by two small temples.
The shopping street was quite easy to find because of the colorful arcs that welcome its guests. Most of the shops are still closed because of the yearend holiday but the vibrancy of the place is still very visible. Another addition to our list of places to revisit. Maybe next time we would be able to enjoy some local food featured in the Japanese drama.
Overall, it was good start of 2017 for us. Hoping it’s the same for you too!