[Jan.2018] We went to a Shinto shrine called Shinmeisha in the city of Kashiwa in Chiba prefecture, with my family.
It is customary in Japan to visit a shrine on New Year’s Day .
We are not parishioners of this particular shrine, but our family chose this because it was easy to get there by car and it is a pretty nice shrine.
The shrine seemed new, but it was due to the remodeling and expansion carried out in 2015, but in fact it has a long history.
According to the brochure, “It is speculated that it was already considered an important sacred site in the Heian period (794-1192).”
He also says that every year, on October 17, they celebrate the Kagura (Sacred Shinto dance) on the sanctuary’s stage, which would be interesting to watch.
We all took fortune slips and got some good ones, including mine, which was Daikichi (very good luck).
We tie the slips to a particular place located on the site of the sanctuary, which is another traditional thing to do in the New Year.
The weather was also very nice.
In the afternoon, we met a friend of ours in Ueno, in Tokyo and we went for a walk in Ueno Park.
For me, this is a familiar place.
When I was little, we visited the zoo and when I was a student, I used to go to the galleries and concert halls.
But I did not know that this is the first park in Japan opened in 1876.
According to the park’s website, the zoo and the National Museum were opened in 1882, the University of the Arts in Tokyo in 1887 and the statue of Saigo Takamori (an influential samurai towards the end of the Edo era) in 1898.
The park used to belong to the Kan’ei-ji temple.
We visited the temple first.
There you can see the interesting pine tree called “Tsuki no Matsu (pine of the moon)”, which was painted by the famous painter Ukiyoe Hiroshige a long time ago and restored in 2012.
There was a man who sold some bracelets to support people who were still living in temporary houses after the big earthquake and tsunami of 2011, so I bought a small one.
After that, we continued walking through the park, but even though the sun was shining, the air that flowed was very cold, so we decided to enter one of the many museums in the park.
The one we chose was The Horyuji Treasure Gallery at the Tokyo National Museum.
It was the first time I went.
In the main room on the ground floor, there were many statues of Kannon (Goddess of Mercy), which was impressive.
Because this is the permanent exhibition, there were not many people here and we were able to spend a very pleasant and peaceful time there.
After that, we visited the main building of the National Museum and when we left, it was already dark.
It’s in Yanaka, near Ueno.
We ordered the dish at the chef’s choice which included the special New Year’s dish with kaki and octopus.
The food was as good as the previous times we had gone, we talked and we drank a lot.