04 January 2017

Hello 2017 // First Sunrise & First Shrine Visit of The Year

"Whoops, it's 4/365 already!"

Or that's how my friends or some people that I'm following on Instagram wrote as their captions. And since I found it interesting, so why not copying it here on the blog, hehe. Anyway, how was your new year celebration guys? Hope you were having a wonderful time! Whether you spent it with your loved ones or on your own, spent it outside or staying at home, each needs to be appreciated :)

As for me, I spent the new year's eve by karaoke-ing all night long with my Indonesian girls. Well, not the wisest way to spend a new year, I know... but at least we ended up doing something that we like, haha. 

From left to right: My senior since college Mba Gana, Alia, Freezy, Vella and yours truly.

We sang from 11 p.m till 5 a.m on the next day a.k.a the next year. And thanks to this experience, I almost ran out of my voice. But I'm happy! I made a quite remarkable progress to my karaoke ability, that is to sing Japanese songs, lol. I worked hard practicing, you know :p It was such a real struggle for a person who doesn't really listen to Japanese songs on daily basis--despite she's living in Japan.

I sang to Perfume's songs! If you haven't known them yet, then you guys should check them out since they're super awesome Japanese female trio. And also to Hoshino Gen's song titled "Koi", you guys should check this song out as well. I swear you'll feel like dancing after hearing it for few seconds. And to some more fave songs!

Done with karaoke, we proceeded to Harajuku Station. This time, we officially celebrated new year like how the Japanese usually do: 
(i) catching first sunrise of the year :)

There I was among the crowd. We were standing at a slope near the Harajuku Station. It was a car free day around the Harajuku and Omotensando area, so people could freely walk and stop at the middle.

At first, my friends and I opted to enjoy the sunrise from an observation deck or a rooftop. But we couldn't make it. We just knew that we must join something like lottery months before, if we wanted to enjoy it from places like Tokyo Tower or Tokyo Metropolitan Governmental building. So, now you know how hype this first sunrise viewing event is! Well, well, maybe next year? 

Hopefully :)

Met this suuuper cute puppy that was waiting for sunrise too! It jumped and moved a lot, I guess it was as excited as me about New Year :p

We waited for quite some time for the sun to fully emerge. Anyway, only a few foreigners were standing there, including us, as it was mostly filled with Japanese.  Even there was a tourist who stopped by and asked us, "why are these people standing here?". It must be quite confusing for some tourists to digest this situation, I suppose. Looking at a flock of people standing on the street without any particular attraction around. 

As time went by, the clock was showing 07:02 a.m,

and here it is....

the first sunrise of the year, as seen from Harajuku slope.

Honestly, I had never done this before my coming to Japan. 2014 was my very first time experiencing this tradition, and it felt so magical until I swore, I wanted to do this every year. That moment when the super bright first sunlight of the year strikes your eyes, you'll start brimming with hope and feeling fortunate about what you just see. The sun is definitely show stopper, even long before it rises!

We were so thrilled to capture the moment with our cameras and phones. Snap, snap! And we're done enjoying the sunrise. People then started to leave the street. Some were heading to the station, while some proceeded to Meiji Shrine located adjacent to the station. My friends and I were the latter .


(ii) Hatsumode at Meiji Shrine

Hatsumode means the first shrine visit of the year. I really really love the ambiance of Hatsumode. What makes it super interesting is that, so many people gather at one place, but it's not noisy at all! It's still so peaceful, despite it's so crowded. Very unique!

Meiji Shrine, or we also call as Meiji Jingu is said to be the most packed Hatsumode destination within the country. From what I read on Japan-Guide.com, Meiji Shrine welcomes more than three million visitors during the first days of New Year. Wow! And the five of use were a part of that number, yeay!

Striking a pose before we entered the Shrine area, with the giant Torii as the background

Anyway, 2017 is the year of the rooster. To a bright note, I was born in this year! Based on the Shinto prophecy, a guy that was born in 1993 or Heisei 5 according to Japanese calendar, will have a bad luck this year! So, If I were a boy, this year is going to be an unlucky year to me. TGIF, Thank God I'm Female, lol!

But still, I hope all the best for all my 1993 fellas. May that unlucky year (yakudoshi) prophecy is only a superstition that will never come true. Amen.

Cleaning the hands and mouth before entering the main area of the shrine

Everyone was heading to the same direction: to the main hall of the shrine, where the Emperor Meiji and his consort, Empress Shoken are enshrined

A ceremony to gain fortune was led by a Shinto priest at the main hall of the Shrine

Anyway, see those zigzag-shaped folded papers in the photo above? If you don't know yet what they are, they're called "Shide", or we also call as "O-shide" in honorific form. You can easily spot them at Shinto Shrines, as they are parts of the Shinto's ritual symbol. They are usually attached to a straw rope called as "Shimenawa"

Fyi, the inner part of Meiji Shrine's main hall is only opened during important ceremonies like new year's ceremony. On regular days, visitors are restricted to step inside the hall. 


(iii) Buy "Omamori" and Draw "Omikuji" 

The next thing to do after praying, is to move to the right side of the main hall area! This is the place where "Omamori" and "Omikuji" stands are located!

Pretty pretty lucky charms, Omamori.

The Omamori and Hamaya stall. Spot Hamaya at the right side of this pic?

Omamori is Japanese amulet mainly in a form of lucky charm that people believe can protect them from bad energy or bad happening. 

Special for new year edition, there's also "Hamaya", or arrow of good fortune. Hamaya works as talisman that is believed will protect its owner from evil. 

Me in front of the lining up Omamori stalls

The next is Omikuji! It is yet another different thing than OmamoriOmikuji is a fortune written on a piece of paper that is usually drawn from a canister. For those who believe, the message written on omikuji that they draw on new year will describe how their life will be on that year.

Alia drew a poem Omikuji

The forms of Omikuji differ from one shrines to another. As for Meiji Shrine, they have poems written by Emperor Meiji and Empress Shoken as omikujis. My friend Alia got number 2 from the canister, so she got this lovely poem about being gentle and honest written by the Empress. So loving it! :)

For me personally, I like this kind of omikuji better than the usual one that will tell you about your fortune on life, love, economic, and other aspects. This one is more into how we should face the new year with attitude. And this kind of omikuji doesn't judge your future at all, so that's why I love it. Well, every person has their own liking, right?

I didn't really pray at the shrine actually. My main purpose  of coming here is definitely to relish the new year's vibe in Japanese way. To take part in the crowd. And to live the moment! :)

New year is one of my highly recommended times to visit Japan if you have the chance. This side of the world is so unique in celebrating it. And it would obviously be a nice experience to try! :D

Going back to dorm with the almost empty Seibu Tamagawa Train on 1st Jan 2017.

According to Japanese believe, people should go back home straight after their first shrine visit of the year. So that the luck that they wish for, will always stick with them. 

And we did take that seriously! Haha. We headed back to dorm and made no stop along the way... except to a convenience store located just across the uni. Oops...

Tokyo University of Foreign Studies, 1st Jan 2017.

(Hahaha, nonetheless I still feel like my good luck is still sticking around me.)

So, we've reached the end of the post! Hope you guys enjoy reading it and enjoy seeing all the pictures :) 

Here we are again, at the new beginning. 2016 was so rad. I traveled to countries that I'm truly enthusiastic about: Thailand and India! I made new friends all along the way, all along the stop.Until I discover that talking to strangers is my hobby, and airports have always been a good place to sport it, lol. Also, I flew back and started my life in Japan again, this time in Tokyo! I passed the Master's entrance exam, and will start a new life with a whole new status this April as a Grad School student.

Basically, I'm so curious about how 2017 will treat me and vice versa. I know, going to a graduate school is not an easy peasy lemon squeezy thing. There will be many ups and downs. Well, I'll update you more about life later. I pray that 2017 will be a good year for us. Here's to a greater struggle, and more of precious adventures! 

So, till we meet again on the next post beautiful souls! :)



P.s.: Two years ago, I did the same thing : catching first sunrise of the year! But, at a completely different place, that time was in Enoshima Beach. Click the link below, if you're curious to see! :)

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