New Year’s Eve in Japan

Tonight was New Year’s Eve in Japan, or Ōmisoka (大晦日) in Japanese. As we’re getting over the nasty jet-lag from the trip, we were able to enjoy the day more, spend time with the family, get some shopping done and so on. This evening, I went with my father in law to a service at a Jodo Shu Buddhist temple called Tōmyōji (東明時) here in Kawasaki City, Japan. In Japan, many people go to either a Shinto shrine, or to a Buddhist temple depending on one’s preference. If you go to a Buddhist temple, you might take part in joya no kane (除夜の鐘), or the ringing of the large, outdoor temple bell just before midnight. The bell is rung 108 times, which is an important number in Buddhism. The Jodo Shu service was the first I’ve ever seen, and it was interesting how some things related to my experiences at the Jodo Shinshu temple in Seattle, but some things differed as well. I’ll post a picture of the altar when I get back to Ireland.

The ringing of the bell was a nice experience. Every time the bell rang, with it’s deep bitter-sweet sound, it served as a reminder that all things must perish. Good food, pretty girls, and all that inevitably fade in time.

After the service, 2009 came and my father-in-law and I headed back home, where we ate some toshi-koshi soba, an excellent New Year meal featuring soba noodles in hot broth.

Happy New Year everyone!


P.S. Sorry for the brevity of these posts. I don’t have the time I had in Ireland to write. :)

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One Comment on “New Year’s Eve in Japan”

  1. Tornadoes28 says:

    I participated in New Years activities in Japan back in 2004 and it is one of my favorite memories in japan. I seem to remember going to the local Shinto shrine just after midnight to ring a bell, clap our hands, and make an offering for prayer. And after that, we went down to the hill to the local Buddhist temple where they had activities.

    It was really cold.

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