New Year’s Day

New Year's Day,  shrine

With the in-laws and the hubb, I visited this shrine on New Year’s day. Amidst an ordinary Suginami neighborhood, this small shrine looks like something out of history, or at least an advertisement. Hey, is that Hachiko, the famous dog?

New Year is a quiet and charming time in Tokyo. Everyone who came from the interior has left, most businesses are shut down, and there’s a lot of over-eating with the family. In between delicious lunch and dinner at the in-laws, we visited the shrine, to say a quick prayer and to draw our fortune.

After experiencing the mind-numbingly long prayers of my family’s religion, Japanese prayer is so charming. Throw some coins in the shrine, ring the bell, bow twice, clap your hands twice, press them together, think a happy thought, and let the next people have their turn. It takes about 20 seconds, and involves no audible words.

Happy new year to everyone! Hope your year started well.


  1. john and i attended church in hnl. i knew i’d never drag you there so i jumped at the chance with him. it was at kawaiaha’o, the oldest hawaiian church, the one the monarchs built. half the service in hawaiian language. very new england architecture. very churchy folks. i was embarrassed and fascinated.

  2. You’re right that I could not sit through a church service. At least hawaiian language praying might increase the magic and decrease the Jesus stuff, but I know I’d quickly start squirming. I *love* the 20 second, silent Japanese prayer.

  3. One thing I’m looking forward to in East Asia: lack of Christianity. I’m about up to here in conservatism.

    That’d be really cool is that was Hachiko. I can’t remember where that statue is.

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