What a nice change! This year was my most memorable, relaxing and enjoyable New Year’s ever.
I had such a fun time watching “Downtown’s” New Year’s Eve Special on TV. Even though I couldn’t understand the verbal language, I could find humor in the facial expressions, body language and physical comedy. It was very refreshing to experience a new kind of humor. Unfortunately, I couldn’t finish watching the program.
Before I knew it, the countdown had begun. 10, 9, 8, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2, 1, Happy New Year!!! As I kissed my girlfriend, I realized how happy and lucky I was to be thoroughly enjoying my time here. I felt very peaceful and relaxed, with nothing to stress me out. Then it was time to bundle up and take a walk to the nearest shrine.
I was convinced that many people would not be at our local shrine. I figured most people went to visit the big shrines and temples in the city. I was very surprised to see a long line of people waiting on the street to get into the small, local shrine. We waited for over 30 minutes in the cold to get in. I wouldn’t have changed a thing.
It was great to be among all the local people and watch everyone celebrate with their families. The shrine was beautiful with all of the lit candles and fires along the way to the prayer bells. I felt so fortunate to learn so much about traditional customs in Japan. My favorite part was near the end when I received a free drink of sake. It was sweet, and the first time that I have drank from a wooden box. I also enjoyed getting a fortune that told me to work harder if I want to reach my goals.
After I tied my fortune to a tree branch, I wandered around the shrine while contemplating the year ahead. It was great to just think about things and put things in perspective. The atmosphere seemed very calm and spiritual, a perfect setting for deep thoughts.
I had never been so impressed by a New Year’s celebration. I look forward to more Japanese festivities in the future.