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Tokyo Christmas and New Year - a family affair / 31 December 2014


End of year day and a holiday. The festive air is infectious. There will be celebration events all over the city. People will be out partying but many families will be staying home to watch the traditional marathon tv singing contest. 
As the year changes bells will strike 108 times and at some temples visitors are invited join in with the ringing. Around a million people will pass through the Meji shrine as it is the custom to offer wishes and prayers in the first five days of the New Year. 


Themed partying at Disneyland is very popular. These things need booking well in advance. It is also the custom to watch the first dawn of the New Year. There will be a long trek of people climbing a local-ish mountain to view the dawn from its peak, maybe catch a glimpse of Fuji-San if they are lucky, and stopping at the shrine on the way down. Even those who never give it a thought in the daily run of things will visit a shrine to make New Year wishes.
Not much of this makes its way to the national news chanel, it's almost as if, at the last moment, the New Year creeps in by stealth.
Long queues of people patiently waiting their turn to enter snow clad temples; a band of semi-naked men jogging and chanting, also in the snow, a single strike of one giant brass temple bell and reverential views of people praying at warmly lit shrines - these made the news. 
Live feeds on our collection of tablets, from countdown parties and the balloon release from Tokyo Tower, blurred our impression of when this New Year actually started.
I fleetingly missed the bongs and paused to wonder if Auld Lang Syne is still played to indicate closing time at the museum.

Positively the day for tapping sticks;
melodious clunking to clear the way
for the pristine year awaiting the bold
brave enough to draw a line under the
demons of twenty-fourteen, to archive
it's treasures, to learn and to grow into
the discoveries and challenges of
the new. Unleashed at the stroke of midnight
I don't know where I'm going, nor who is
going with me, but I will treasure them;
sharing what I need to share,
loving who I need to love, 
as I practice being me;
my own unique source for creativity.