Waking up in Japan on the first day of 2008 was an amazing feeling. New Years was always just kind of a mediocre "holiday" for me, and usually just felt like another day (exceptions; see Crewtonz 2005). For once in my life I felt like I had done something, seen something relevant and this was still only the beginning of my trip.
We started the day off by checking out the massive street fair that was going on at the temple next to our hostel. The Japanese know how to party because it was only 10 in the morning and there was definitely dudes get wild on some Asahi and Sake.
We had some Japanese street-meat for breakfast, it was good but I was decidedly against the fish flakes they put on it.
Shot of the temple next to the Hostel and people walking around the street fair.
I had read online that only two days out of the year is the Japanese Imperial Palace gardens open to the public; on the Emperors birthday and on New Years Day. Well it turned out I had read wrong... its the second day of the new years, this lead us to tourist mistake #3. We headed over to the palace to peep the scene and were quite insulted when we realized we were locked out.
us sitting with the palace behind us.
We waited maybe a half hour for the diplomat from America to roll up so we could wave to him and represent our country to the fullest. While waiting we passed the time by insulting the cars of all the other nations.
After we realized our mistake at the palace we headed over to the Meiji Shrine. Like I said before, the New Years is a massive holiday in Japan and people flock to all the shrines in order to leave gifts and prayers in hopes of receiving good fortune for the new years. Meiji Shrine is one of the biggest and most popular shrines in all of Japan so you can imagine what a mad house it was there. I actually found this to be quite an amazing site, so many people either had complete faith in the ritual or were just following tradition out of respect for their history. I would kill for this kind of culture in America. We waited online for about an hour in order to get to the main shrine building to throw our change in.
A couple shots of the crowd at Meiji.
At one point while waiting on the line I felt compelled, out of boredom, to take my arm and jam it in between James' arm and his body and proudly told him "you got hooked!". Little did I know that I had started a new game that would sweep the nation. For the remainder of the trip we were all on the lookout for various hooks, many laughs were had. By the time we were done at the Meiji Shrine night had fallen over us. Participating in tourism is an exhausting thing so we just decided to grab some grub and call it quits for the day. Although only getting a couple things done today it was still a truly amazing way to start the New Years off and I felt truly privileged in order to take part in some traditions that are really sacred to the Japanese. My only concern at this time was that I hoped tomorrow would be as good as the past few days.