|We always say, "Families that cosplay together, stay together."|
|Hood River Valley, Oregon|
The only unfortunate thing about my trip was that I missed New Years in Japan. I was lucky enough to spend last New Years with a Japanese/American family I know in Oregon, and it was a really amazing experience. For Americans, New Years is about going out to party with your friends, drinking way too much, and sleeping off your hangover the next day. Possibly watching football, if you're into that kind of thing (I'm not).
In Japan, it's traditional to spend New Years at home with family. There are many kinds of traditional New Years foods, called osechi ryori. You can also play traditional games like karuta, a card game where you try to be the first to grab a specific haiku.
Another important tradition is hatsumode, or the first visit to a shrine of the new year. This can really happen anytime, but most people go within the first few days of the year. Generally you go, wait in line to pray at the shrine and leave some money, and maybe buy a new omamori (protection charm). Many people also buy omikuji (fortunes written on small pieces of paper).
|Meiji Shrine in Harajuku|
When I got back to Japan, I stayed in Tokyo for a day in order to visit my friend Megumi. While I was there, we went to the Meiji Shrine in Harajuku. It was packed with people, so Megumi didn't wait in line to pray. Instead we took some photos and bought omikuji. According to Wikipedia (trusted source of unquestionable information that it is), the Meiji Shrine had 3.45 million visitors in 1998. I don't know how many there were this year, but I'm guessing a lot.
|The crowd lining up to pray at the shrine.|