Striking modern architecture is one of the pleasures of visiting Tokyo. The gold building in the middle is the Asahi beer company headquarters. Reflecting light, it looks like a mug of beer with a foamy head. To the right of it is the Asahi flame and to the immediate left in the background is the Tokyo Sky Tower. The building to the far left is the Sumida Concert Hall.
Family pictured on a bridge over the Sumida river with the Tokyo Sky Tree in the background
To start the day, Nadia and Ocean took a rickshaw to some of the tourist sites near the Sumida river. We walked to the Tokyo Sky Tree, the tallest tower in the world to get some perspective on the city. The Sky Tree is a 634 meter high communications tower and tourist attraction. It is worth going up to the top to see the sprawling megapolis. Despite the crowds, it was only about an hour’s wait to get to the 350 m viewing area. There are also plenty of shops, restaurants and attractions in the lower floors.
There is not a lot of drunkenness and fireworks in Japan on New Year’s Eve. The thing to do is spend time quietly with family and visit several of the thousands of temples and shrines to reflect/pray for blessings in the upcoming year. We saw lines of people all over and the temples have different themes, like mercy, love, money, etc.
I took the boys after midnight across the street to the Higashi Hongon temple. We watched and listened to worshippers strike the gong 108 times, representing the 108 vices of humans in the Buddhist religion. They had a fire going along with sake and snacks. The gong is on the top floor of one of the temple building and they had a live stream showing everyone taking their turn.
Oliver at the Higashi Hongon-Ji
It certainly was a different way to spend New Year’s Eve, and at my age, excessive drinking is not really the way I want to spend the evening. Ocean had a headache so we had a low key celebration in the apartment with glow sticks and party hats. It is good to mark these events with children. New Year’s celebrations may be my favorite holiday as it is a chance to reflect on the year that passed and look forward to what is coming in the future. I can’t believe it is 2016. As a teenager growing up in the 1980s, I never imagined what it would be like in this century. I am happy and appreciative to be here and able to celebrate!
Crowds line up to say their prayers on New Years Eve. The photo above is the Senso temple, the oldest and most important Buddhist temple in Japan. We touched the bell for good luck.
Happy New Year everyone!