Hatsumode (初詣) is the first shrine visit of the New Year in Japan. Today’s photo comes from January of 2010 when it was the Year of the Tiger. 2016 is the Year of the Monkey.
Flash forward to 2013, and I hadn’t been to Japan for over three years. I wandered into my old neighborhood to find my local shrine getting ready for its annual Bon Odori. The vibe was bittersweet as I waxed nostalgic but also realized I would be heading back to the USA before the actual event took place the following week.