Happy New Year

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(Chionin Temple, shortly after midnight)

Happy New Year!

The bells have been rung, the tangerines peeled and eaten. At midnight and the dark hours after, waves of people trek to their local shrines to pray for the new year. They toss coins in the temple donation boxes and buy omikuji, their fortune for the New Years. Bad luck gets tied to a tree or rope.

Venders set up stalls selling yakisoba, oden, karage, and other festival favorites. I waited in line to make my new year wishes, nibbling on a red bean paste taeyaki, while people watching with my little brother.

At midnight we surged forward, and the festivities began. This morning, while in a cab to Kyoto station to catch the Shinkansen to Tokyo, I could still see the lights from the stands. The streets were still crowded with celebrators.

And for the record, my luck is supposed to be relatively good next year, although my romantic relationships are expected to tank.

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