Our flight back to to Nagoya was quick and painless. The weather was even in our favor so we got to catch our first glimpse of Mt. Fuji! Even from far away she looks grand and miraculous. Can’t wait to climb her this summer!
We got back to Nagoya around noon with plenty of daylight left to check out our local Shinto shrine Atsuta. It is estimated that within the fist 3 days of the New Year 80 million people visit their local shrine to pray for safety and peace for the New Year also known as Hatsumoude, so why not be part of it!
What is a Shinto Shrine you might be asking? Well Shinto or (kami no michi) is the indigenous religion in Japan. One of my students compared Shinto to the Native American beliefs in America. It’s a religion that more or less worships the whole earth that we live on. Every part of Nature is sacred and therefore has its own God. In front of Shinto Shrines are Torii gates that are meant to signify that you are about to enter a Place of the Gods, therefore sacred.
Of course, like any other religious gathering anywhere in the world, there were the Pro-Christian picketers. Because why not shove your opinion where it doesn’t belong?
Once we entered the fist Torii gate we were pretty much immediately funneled into a huge line of people.
Even though there was thousands of people there everything was of course orderly and peaceful. No pushing, no angry sighs, just a calm relaxed feeling that you would eventually get to your destination. And the line actually went surprisingly quick.
Once inside we went straight to the actual shrine. First stop throwing a coin which serves as an offering to the Gods, typically a 5-10 yen coin. There are many more traditional steps that we watched people do, including washing your hands and ringing bells. But since we don’t know the true way to pray as a Shinto be sat back and appreciated our surroundings as opposed to participating.
We bought ourselves a little souvenir called Hamaya, which is an arrow that is supposed to ward off evil spirits and serve as a good luck charm. 2016 is the year of the Monkey. Overall I would say it was a nice change of pace to previous New Years. We enjoyed the calmness of the day and best part was we weren’t hungover!