I typically am not the type of person to do anything on New Years, but this year I decided to celebrate the new year with the friends I made in the dorm. Unfortunately due to growing concern over a new strain of the Covid-19 virus, many of the New Year’s events in Tokyo were canceled this year. Despite this, we still managed to have plenty of fun in the dorm in celebration of New Years.
We started the night festivities with a large feast. Fortunately for everyone, I did not participate in any of the cooking as I am probably the least qualified person to be in a kitchen in the entire dorm. Those of us who weren’t cooking still hovered around the kitchen common area just talking and enjoying each other’s company. By the time we were done cooking, eating, and cleaning it was almost midnight. We all went to the roof for the countdown and popped off some confetti, and afterwards we went to the local shrine. Many people were at the shrine praying at the shrine as well as buying things such as good luck charms. Due to my Islamic faith I had no intentions of participating in such traditions, but I still watched with great interest. A tradition I did decide to participate in was to watch the first sunrise of the year, and we decided to stay up all night for the occasion. We watched a couple movies to pass the time and in no time we were back on the roof watching the sunrise marking the end of our night.
Although it was a bit exhausting, I really enjoyed spending New Years with my friends at the dorm. It was really interesting to witness the New Years traditions in Japan. I was surprised to see how integral the shrines and temples were to New Years in Japan. I went to the famous temple in Asakusa early on the 31st to see all the festivities and was amazed by all the people who’ve come to pray at the temple, buy souvenirs or charms at the stalls, or just to take pictures dressed in traditional Japanese clothing. What I didn’t know was just how hectic things were going to get at night, but luckily I witnessed the chaos on tv without having to endure the massive crowd.
New Years celebrations definitely can look a bit different in Japan, however, the essence of New Years that I am accustomed to, seeing farewell to the previous year and praying for a good upcoming year, seems to have remained. I pray 2023 will bring good to us all, and I hope I will be able to continue to document my adventures abroad during this coming year.