Journals from Rikkyo University, Japan
2010-01-04 Happy Holidays!
Meiji Jingu in Harajuku
Akemashite omedetou gozaimasu! That is Japanese for Happy New Year! Christmas might not be a big deal for Japanese people, but they are all about celebrating the beginning of the New Year. The great thing about it though, is that there are so many different ways to celebrate the New Year in Japan. One of my friends went to Tokyo Tower and celebrated by releasing balloons and then went clubbing afterwards. Another way to celebrate is to buy KFC (Kentucky Fried Chicken) for the family and watch TV, usually some singing program that is similar to American Idol.
I usually sleep through the New Year, so being able to celebrate it in Japan was definitely an once-in-a-lifetime experience. My friends and I decided to go to Meiji Jingu in Harajuku to pray at the temple right after midnight. We got to Meiji Jingu around 10:30-11pm, and there was already a long line to get into the temple! It is a good thing that we did not get there later, because we would have been waiting in the freezing cold for hours just to pray at the temple. It was really unbelievable how many people were there though. There are 108 temples in Japan, and almost all Japanese people go to a temple (and they sometimes go every year!) on New Years to pray for a good year.
After pushing through the loads of Japanese people to throw our 5 yen coins, we prayed. There is also a certain way that people pray as well. I do not remember if I remember the order correctly, but it starts with throwing the money, then bowing twice, praying, then clapping twice, then bow twice more. I made a little song while we were waiting for the temple to open so that I would not forget: Throw the money, Bow-bow, Pray, Clap-clap, Bow-bow.
Going to Meiji Jingu for New Years was definitely a great experience, but I probably would not do it again, just because it was really cold and because there were so many people. Maybe next year, I will stay indoors and watch Glee or Supernatural with a bucket of KFC.
Happy New Year everyone! I wish you all a prosperous year!