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Posts tagged shogatsu

Farewell 2010

suntory beer ad japan

Goodbye 2010. I thoroughly enjoyed your rich taste in relaxing time!

Balloon release party

Today’s photo is a close up of what could be seen in yesterday’s entry. The sign says the balloon (fuusen or 風船) distribution (haifu or 配布) is this way.

For a video of the releasing of the balloons a while later, click here.

Tokyo Countdown 2011

The new year is rapidly approaching. If you are in Tokyo and want to participate, head over to the 23rd annual countdown at Zojoji (増上寺) near Tokyo Tower. Zojoji is not a far walk from Hamamatsucho Station or Tamachi Station. You need to get there early to get a balloon. You can get your balloon number, then go out to dinner, and then come back closer to midnight.

Unlike many places in the world, Japan is rather subdued on New Year’s Eve. Most people sit home and watch the annual Kohaku Uta Gassen (紅白歌合戦 or Red and White Song Battle) which isn’t nearly as fun as the name suggests. In fact, most foreigners find it incredibly boring.

There are activities at other shrines and temples throughout Japan, but most Japanese wait until after the new year begins to go to these places. Other big celebrations (by Japanese standards for New Year’s Eve) in the Tokyo area include Kawasaki Daishi (川崎大師) south of Tokyo and, of course, Meiji Jingu or Meiji Shrine (明治神宮). The big countdown is really only at Zojoji though.

New Year Greeting from Emperor Akihito

On January 2 of each year the emperor of Japan makes a rare, “public” appearance. He doesn’t actually go out in public, but the public comes to see him and the rest of the Japanese Imperial Family.

This was my first, real chance to join in on these festivities. Apparently, I didn’t get enough of the crowds at Zojoji on New Year’s Eve or the crowds at Meiji Jingu on New Year’s Day (photos coming soon). The gates open at 9:30 for the first appearance at 10:10. Seven appearances happen during the day. I thought getting there at 9:30 would be perfect timing to see the 10:10 greeting. It turns out that arriving at 9:30 is perfect timing to make it through the gate at 10:11. I missed the first greeting but did see the emperor’s last wave and backside before he and the rest of the imperial family made their exit.

Above is what the crowd looks like in front of you at 9:30.

Photo number two is what it looks like behind you at 10:05.

A changing of the guard happened a couple of times before the 11:00 appearance. The number of security personnel at this event (and around Yasukuni Jinja down the street where I went after) numbered over a thousand I’m guessing.

There was even a pat down of everyone who lined up. I got in line for the pat down from the cute, female security officer. She told me to go get my pat down from a male cop which wasn’t nearly as fun. He did thank me, though, so I guess it was fun for him. 😉

An old lady near me passed out when they announced the Japanese Imperial Family at 10:55. They carted her off quickly, before the Japanese Imperial Family showed up behind the glass again.

From left to right you can see Crown Princess Masako, Crown Prince Naruhito, Emperor Akihito, Empress Michiko, and Prince Akishino.


“Slowly and cautiously” we moved out of the way for the next group of thousands to gather.

Here are a couple of videos I took. The first is when they made their 11:00 appearance. The second is the emperor’s greeting (a rather predictable “I’m happy to see you all. I ask that you all have a good year. I pray that everyone has a happy year and that the world is at peace.”).

Happy New Year! あけましておめでとうございます!

happy new year 2010 tokyo tower japan

Happy New Year everyone. We rang in the 2010 New Year at the 22nd annual countdown at Zojoji (増上寺), complete with Tokyo Tower in the background, ringing of the temple bell 108 times, and the releasing of thousands of balloons.

I’ll post some more photos and descriptions of the evening’s events in a future entry. For now I’ll leave you with a video of a little piece of the evening.

New Year’s festivities in Japan

Shimekazari japan new year door hanging

We are back from Thailand, just in time for Japan’s biggest holiday, New Year (正月). We plan on going to Zojoji (増上寺) Temple, near Tokyo Tower, to do the New Year Countdown. If you see on TV balloons being let go in front of Tokyo Tower then think of Ellie as being the one who let them go. 😉

Tokyo is very peaceful at the moment (especially compared to Thailand) as most businesses are closed and many people have split town for the next 5 days to a week. Most doors have some sort of New Year’s decoration on them. These are called shimekazari (注連飾り). The one above I couldn’t even see before my flash went off, but I was sure Mrs. Uchida would have one.

正月 shimekazari japanese new years decoration

Above is one more close up.

We didn’t want to be the only ones without something on their door so we put up a poster provided by our friendly, neighborhood Nishi Waseda Culture Association. 2010 is the year of the tiger.

case's front door on new year's eve tokyo japan

And now back to our Thailand trip…