Japanese New Year 2008

POSTED BY DANNY CHOO On Thu 2008/01/03 18:35 JST in Japan
Every new years eve, we usually stay indoors. This time however, we decided to spend the evening with thousands of other folk at a local shrine.
First spent the evening until about 11.30PM watching new years TV and munching on some snacks in the lounge.
Still owe you a review of this awesome figure of Fauna by Alter - she was in the living room at the time so thought I'd take a snap.
The Christmas wreath is replaced by a Japanese new year version that my wife makes every year.
The Japanese word for "new year" is "Osho Gatsu" ].
To say "Happy new year" you should utter "Akemashite Omedetou Gozaimasu" .
Or you can use the colloquial form which is "Ake Ome!" pronounced "ahke ormeh" but only use this with people who you know very well.
Arrive at the shrine at about 11.30PM to find a few thousand other people lining up to pay their respects.
The gongs strike at midnight and everybody cheers and claps.
At the end of the queue in the shrine is a box where people throw in money, clap twice and say a prayer with their hands clasped together. Most people are wishing for good fortune and health for the new year while others are wishing to meet the 2D girl of their dreams so that they can get married early.
Depending on when you was born, you will be in for a good or a bad year. People who where in for a bad year last year carried around objects which warded off evil spirits.
Objects from the previous year can be turned in by placing it in this box.
A list showing the unlucky years. If you are male and are 42, 25 or 61, you are going to be hounded by evil spirits and bad luck.
If you are a woman and are 37, 33, 19 or 61, you will also be followed by evil and bad luck.
But luckily, the shrine sells items which will protect you from these spirits in the form of parchments.
The parchments needs to be blessed however and if you purchase some at midnight then you need to go back the next day to collect them.
Some folk cant be bothered to go right up to the money box so they start to throw coins a few feet away.
The Japanese equivalent to holy water runs from the mouth of this fish.
When folks have said their prayers, they go to play traditional games.
You will see Wii and playstation boxes which gets all the little kids excited. Players are given a shotgun which fires rubber bands or cork to shoot at colored boxes on the shelf.
You knock over a box and think "I've won a Wii!!" where upon you are given a slap in the face (pack of chewing gums).
The Wii, NDS, PSP boxes are just to fool little kids into getting their parents to play.
Just like matsuri time in the summer, food stalls are set up in the shrine.
Everybody drinks sake and beer and munches on yakitori.
This is Okonomi Yaki. Kinda like a Japanese pancake.
Its not only China that uses Disneys intellectual property without permission.
Its back to the shrine the next day to pick up the ward-off-evil parchment. Here we see folks lining up for some of that holy water.
We discovered this shrine earlier on in the year after living in the area for a few years. Its amazing what you can find nearby if you explore a little bit.
These arrows are called "Hamaya" and literally translated as an arrow which destroys demons. First came across the kanji for this when playing Onimusha on the PS2.
Folks buy these and stick them at home which they would use to shoot demons.
You can buy fortune parchments which will either say "you will have a great year - loads o fun, health, happiness and money" or "you will buy a small cute puppy which will grow up and eat you."
For folks who end up with a parchment that says the latter, they tie to this fence so that it doesn't come true.
These pieces of wood are used to write ones wishes for the new year. Many of them are "I want to pass that test", "I want to pass the entrance exams for Tokyo university" or "please dont let my girlfriend discover the Candy Girl under the bed."
Many shrines have lots of smaller shrines within.
Kids love Osho Gatsu as they get their parents to buy them ultraman, sentai, puri cure, hello kitty and unlicensed Disney masks together with plastic guns.
Some yummy Taco yaki - fried octopus balls.
Despite the amount of people who gather at the shrines, the new year passes without incident.
I remember watching the news every year in the UK where a few people would be arrested at Trafalgar Square where they gather on new years eve.
More Taco Yaki.
Hello Kitty Taco Yaki.
And this is what we had for lunch - Taco Yaki, Motsu Ni and some Yakitori.
Spent the new year watching TV on the DS while working. The whole series of the live action Nodame Cantabile is being shown on TV before the special edition tomorrow.
Its the year of the Rat and my wife went to Meiji Jingu to get this years clay bell. Bells for the previous years - the boar and dog. Will be interesting to see how cute they can make a snake look.