December 31, 2016
Our fourth day in Japan was New Year’s Eve. We slept in a little later this morning, in preparation of being out late to celebrate New Year’s — we had plans to meet up with Dr. Yoshida to visit one of his friends and do some shrine-hopping.
|Pokemon and Mario currently have a collab going on and I could not possibly resist this adorable Mario Pikachu|
|The Studio Ghibli store! HEAVEN!|
Even got in an “outfit of the day” to show you my New Year’s Eve outfit. Pretty much all black besides my beanie and my sequin skirt.
After the Gudetama Cafe, we stopped by another nearby Pokemon Store in Sunshine City, the biggest Pokemon store in Tokyo and the only one we visited last time. Then it was back to the hotel to drop off all of our purchases of the day and to rest a little before meeting Dr. Yoshida.
We met Dr. Yoshida at eight o’clock and headed to his friends apartment. His friends wife had a lovely, traditional Japanese New Year dinner set up. There was more nabe, sardines, osechi — traditional New Years food in lacquered boxes resembling bento — persimmon seeds, and even sake from Amori prefecture and sake from Akita prefecture. They also had a New Year’s Eve TV program playing with famous Japanese comedians and musicians making appearances, including Gen Hoshino and PPAP…
Thirty minutes until midnight, I slipped my sake-swollen feet into my shoes and followed Dr. Yoshida to the first shrine of the night. Most shrines close at dark, but not for New Years; many people make their first shrine visit of the year at midnight –or up to three days later–, so the shrines were still popping. We ended up being on the train the minute the clock struck midnight, but things were still going way after; we ended up getting back to our hotel at 4:30 a.m., not even bothering to stay up long enough to watch the first sunrise of the year.
At the shrine though, they served this thick, sweet, and very hot amizake. I wasn’t too fond of it and once again had a horrible headache, so the sweetness didn’t help one bit.
We parted ways with Dr. Yoshida after this first shrine and headed for Harajuku, to visit Meiji Shrine. The lines — or should I say crowds — were crazy, so we never made it to the actual main shrine, after much walking. But we did stop by the stalls they had set up, selling dango and other fair-type foods.
|Nothing like dango at 3 a.m.|
|sake barrels outside meiji shrine|
On our way back to the hotel, we passed a Starbucks in the train station selling their Lucky Bags or “fukubukuro” already; it starts on the first, so technically they were right on time. Lucky Bags are very popular in Japan and many stores sell them the first few days of the New Year’s. Usually, the contents are a mystery, but some places are starting to tell you what you can expect inside. It’s usually to get ride of merchandise from the year.
I am so glad I picked up a Starbucks one; I didn’t even have to wait in line to get it like some of my favorite J-Vloggers did. And yes, my feet were killing me in these booties by the end of the night.
- the Gudetama cafe
- Gudetama curry
- Persimmon seeds @ dinner
- the sake from Amori and Akita