While many countries celebrate the new year with a load of fireworks, Japan is more of a quiet affair where folks visit their local temple to pay respects. The only loud noises you would hear are the gongs of the temple bells.
For many years, we would join the majority of folks to visit our local temple just before midnight on New Years' Eve - but of late, we go the next day when it's not so cold ;-)
Apart from paying our respects, we collect our talismans for the new year and return last year's ones which the temple will burn.
There are different types of talismans - some are wooden for displaying at home or work, and some are made of paper which one usually puts in their wallet - the ones we get are personalized with our names (and the name of the company) - these are considered much more powerful than the ones bought off the shelf.
The monks at the temple will call upon the spirits to empower your personalized talisman with one of the following powers.
-Ward off calamity
-Safety for family
-Prayers are fulfilled
-Prevent my current illness from getting worse
-Save me from these rough seas
-Safety for family+Flourishing business combo pack
-Safety for family+Good health combo pack
For a few years, my talisman was "Prevent my current illness from getting worse," but I realized I could use the "Prayers are fulfilled" to not only help me manifest my goals but also use it to keep healthy too ;-)
What powers would you choose for your talisman? Try getting some for yourself when visiting Japan now that the borders are open.
If you order a personalized talisman (cost is a couple of thousand yen), you will need to wait for the prayer session that summons the spirits that empower your talisman. Some temples allow you to watch (but not record), which I recommend - the experience of listening to the drums and monks chanting is most spiritual.
Due to the mass of people flocking to temples, food stalls appear selling traditional noms such as Hot Amazake (a sweet low-alcohol drink made from fermented rice), yakitori (grilled chicken), yakiimo (steamed sweet potatoes) and more.
How are you spending the new year?