Well that time of the year has come again : the time for new wishes , resolutions , promises and fireworks. Well, at least where I come from. This year , New Years’s eve was a bit different.
Most of my friends went away for the days ,either to Hokkaido , or Kyoto, but me , being a poor bum , just remained in Tokyo. And honestly I don’t regret it. It was a crazy night. Me and two friends (Mahmoud and Mas) decided to do it the proper way : Japanese style.
And so we began our Journey.
Warm clothes – checked
Paper – checked
Tape – checked
You wonder what the previous things were for? Well , just to let you know , in Japan it is quite uncommon for big new year parties and fireworks. On the other hand, people first go to a temple, pray for a good new year and then proceed to a shrine in the morning, where they even pray some more. Furthermore, before the countdown , they write down messages (resolutions for new year , hopes , regrets etc) put them in a helium balloon and then once the clock strikes 12:00 they all release them in the air.
Obviously ,being so gaijin(foreigner) we got there too late to get any balloons or write anything down. The whole place was absolutely packed. Last year’s London’s Eye was nothing. At that time I felt I was actually closer to Japanese people- literally. I was forcefully hugged and forcefully hugged thousands of unknown people.
The beginning was pure chaos , people were trying to move towards the entrance of the temple but there were so many of them that if one tripped the whole crowd would lose its sense of balance. So it was more kind of a horror movie : people screaming here and there Osanaide kudasaiii!!!! (don’t push me please), others Kurushiiii!!!(that means I’m in pain), and of course others like me (F****!!!!! OUCH ..AH FOR F***’S SAKESSS!)
However, once the countdown started , everyone went silent for a moment and then started counting along. When the clock stroke 12 , thousands of balloons were released in the air. The view was spectacular. Something I have never seen in my life. Thousands of balloons resembling stars were flying above our heads. At that time , the scenario completely changed. The horrific screams of pain turned into screams of happiness and people started proceeding inside the temple for the prayers.
And so did us as well. We properly prayed and after we went to have some Soba(the traditional food Japanese have for New Year’s Eve in order to prolong their lives, by tradition). However , the queues were too long to wait at so we decided to go to a konbini(convenience store) , get some instant ones and just sit somewhere. As there are literally no benches whatsoever on the streets of Japan we just sat on the pavement. And surprisingly we were not the only ones. Two other girls(Japanese) were doing the exact thing.
So from there on conversation pretty much went on naturally. After we ended our conversation with them , a bunch of other Japanese people came to congratulate us for the new year(that’s what they actually say in Japanese : congratulations..probably for making it through the year..same with birthdays by the way) and take photos with us.
Once we left the Zojoji temple, we proceeded to the infamous Gaijin district , Roppongi. It was my first time to go there during night time , and honestly it was pretty sleezy : women asking you for ‘massages’ everywhere , guys assaulting girls, trying to drag them with them and so on. We had a pretty good kebab around , danced a bit in the street with other people. Regarding drunkness I can’t say it was that different to Europe. Drunk people everywhere, either cheerful or passed out. =). To conclude the night, we made our way for Hatsumode(the morning prayer ) at the Meiji Shrine. Again the scenery was amazing. We prayed some more, met up some friends and that was pretty much it.