Ushering in 2014 the Japanese way

I’ve never really been one for celebrating or ushering in the new year. Dec 31 has always been just like any other day for me. But since I’m in Japan I thought it would be good to experience the Japanese way of ushering in the new year – visiting your nearby shrine.


I arrived around 11pm at the Gokokuji Shrine and already there was a long queue of people waiting to make their first prayer of the new year at the shrine altar. I joined the queue and it was a good 1 hour before it got to my turn.


After that, I explored the shrine grounds – checking out the food stalls. Octopus on skewer seem to be a particularly popular offering.


A lady manning a toy stall. Slow business day for her I guess.


All in all, it was an interesting experience. While the rest of the world celebrate with plenty of booze and fireworks, Japan ushers in the new year in a deeply spiritual and festive mood. Definitely, a great start to 2014 for me!


2 thoughts on “Ushering in 2014 the Japanese way

  1. This is really something I’ll love to experience when I’m in Japan…gotta go at the right time though, I’ve read about this in manga and seen it in anime but never actually done it! Good on ya mate. It’s a cultural thing I’ll love to absorb myself! 😀

    • Seems like everyone has seen / read about the Japanese new year from anime / manga except me! And I watch a lot of anime but I tend to go for sci-fi or the action variety. Yep, it was a great experience. I was actually contemplating giving it a miss since I was dead tired from a long day. But then I thought “Hey, it’s not every new year I get to be in Japan”.

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