New Year's Day in Japan

POSTED BY DANNY CHOO On Sat 2011/01/01 22:57 JST in Living in Japan Guide
Happy new year folks! How has your 2011 been so far? Its been an incredible 2010 but I'll go on to speak more in the 2010 summary which I should have up sometime next week.
Photos in this post taken since midnight 2011/1/1 and as usual, we spend the night with a load of other folks at our local shrine for a custom called "Hatsumoude" which is the first visit to the shrine of the year.
First photo taken at Meguro Fudouson Ryusenji Shrine in Meguro.
At about 23:30, we bike out to the shrine in the biting cold. Its been freezing during the evenings of late.
We got to the shrine later than usual and there were a load of other couples and family already queuing up on the stars which lead up to the main temple.
Screenshot taken on the iPhone at 0:00. Everybody claps and wishes complete strangers a happy new year which you say like "Akemashite, Omedetou-gozaimasu!" .
After midnight, the queue starts to move as folks make their way in and then out of the main temple.
Once inside, folks usually throw a bunch of 5 yen coins into a box at the front of the hall where there are many monks chanting in front of statues of Buddha. There are folks sitting around the monks in prayer surrounded by the smoke of incense. Unfortunately no photos or videos allowed inside.
Omamori is a charm or amulet which one carries around to protect themselves or bring good fortune. This is the one I made last year which I must return to the temple to be burned. You can read more about this in the post I wrote this time last year.
For the type of charm I chose, I needed to choose "wishes are granted."
There is a huge bowl in the middle of the stairs that has bunches of incense burning which is where all the smoke is billowing from.
The shrine grounds are lively filled with a peaceful atmosphere. Families and couples are eating grub sold at the stalls in the shrine grounds and children are running around playing games with each other.
This is a Hamaya which is laterally an arrow that destroys demons. We bought it at the shrine last year and now must return it to the shrine to be burned.
All Hamaya, charms and amulets must be returned to the shrine to be burned so that the gods can return to the heavens after a year of protecting you.
Tis the year of the rabbit and you will see them all over the place. I need to get some for my girls.
Hamaya can be purchased in different sizes depending on the size of demon you want to keep away.
Omukuji is a piece of paper with a fortune written on it. It may be good news like "You shall be blessed with oppai for each day of the week" or bad news like "You will slip and fall with your face in some baboon poo and you wont be able to wash the taste out of your mouth for 5 months."
A huge bell in one of the temples can be rung where you can make a prayer at the same time. Only 108 people a year get to do this but we never get to the shrine grounds early enough.
Ema are pieces of wood where you can write a wish and hang it on these racks. Other folks have written things like "Help me pass my exams" to things like "bless us with a baby this year." Anybody is free to read other peoples Ema.
A stall in the shrine grounds has a load of idol stuff together with some game consoles to trick children to play. Even if you hit a target with a hoop, all you will get is something worth 100 yen.
If you are planning to visit a shrine in the new year, go on an empty stomach and some cash in hand to try some of the food at the stalls which range from stuff like Yakitori (grilled chicken on a stick), Takoyaki (octopus balls), Yakisoba (grilled noodles) and so on.
Folks who want to visit Ryusenji shrine should get off at Musashikoyama or Fudomae station on the Meguro line and walk using the map below. Photos of the Shrine can be seen in last years post.
This afternoon - its off with my producer to drop the new years special (on air tomorrow) of Culture Japan onto a tape for Tokyo MX TV.
The show is edited with Final Cut Pro which has to be rendered twice - one from FCP and the other with a software called SubMerge to hard burn the subtitles.
What happens next is that we take the HD that contains the rendered file (50GB for a Prores HD 30 min show) to a facility which has the equipment to drop the show onto a tape. We can do any final changes before the drop. The extra equipment here enables us to catch and edit sound levels which may be off that we could not notice back at the editing studio.
After spending a few hours preparing the tapes, I'm back to base to go out with wifey for a bit.
In areas like Shibuya, Shinjuku and Ikebukuro, most shops and restaurants will be open. In our local shoping arcade however, many shops are closed for the day.
A store selling traditional Japanese rice snacks catches my eye.
The shop owner invites me into take photos inside. Will probably be filming here for Culture Japan season 2.
What caught my eye was his photo taken in 1927 (Showa 2). I just love old photos of Japan.
If you are visiting the Palm shopping arcade (which is the longest indoor shopping arcade in Tokyo) then this is the store you should be looking for if you want some traditional Japanese snacks.
Stores which are closed will have a notice informing you when they will be back in business. This store will be closed until the 4th of January.
Many stores will have new years greetings like this one - "Kinga Shinnen" . This is a written greeting and not a spoken one - if you want to wish somebody a happy new year verbally then you would say "Akemashite, Omedetou-gozaimasu!" .
Om nomming on the rice snacks we got just now.
Take away sushi is very popular during this time of year.
The lovely Haruka Ayase is being used as bait to pull in the punters to east some KFC "New Year Barrel."
Grabbing some pistachio to nom on while lazing around in the lounge - which I still have not got around to doing.
Was looking around in the 100 yen shop for some plastic PSP game covers. Didn't find any but came across these noms - all for 100 yen per pack.
At the end/beginning of the year we try to throw out as much rubbish and clean up as much as possible. Looking for some boxes to help keep things organized.
Picking up some sweets for the car.
Looking for some plants to stick around the house.
The Palm mascots wish us a happy new year.
Picking up some Mr Donuts for the girls.
Saber is in new year gear - a Miko outfit from Azone.
If dogs go "woof" and cats go "meow", how do rabbits go?
PSP get. As you can see, the color is Brilliant Orange. The 3rd Birthday and Monster Hunter 3 triggered me to get the PSP. Great machine. Been getting in some gaming time during short breaks.
A flick through today's newspaper.
Tokyo Sky Tree that's due for completion this year.
Mr Ishihara together with one of his fave moe characters.
Most of the TV shows around the new year are all special editions. Can you recognize the fellow on the screen?
Before I forget, you can see coverage of previous years in the following photo articles:-
-Japanese New Year 2006 (Meiji Jingu in Harajuku)
-Japanese New Year 2007 (Sensouji in Asakusa)
-Japanese New Year 2008 (Meguro Fudouson)
-Japanese New Year 2009 (Meguro Fudouson)
-Japanese New Year 2010 (Meguro Fudouson)
And as I mentioned last year, I'd like you to add something to your new years resolution list.
Don't wait until next year again to add stuff that you want to accomplish to your new years resolution list - do that something now and accomplish it sooner.
A new years resolution is just an excuse to put it off for another year.