Article: New year's day

New year's day

New year's day

When most anime fans talk about the holidays they will mention what anime related goodies they got for Christmas. While I did receive my fair share of such things I have something better to talk about. On new year's day I visited a Shinto Shrine.

Now some of you are asking how was I able to visit a Shinto shrine, After all aren't they all in Japan? Actually most of them are but there is one in America. It is called the Tsubaki shrine. It is actually a branch shrine of a 2000 year old one in Japan. As luck would have it I it only takes about a half hour drive to get there. Knowing that New year's day is a big day for Shinto I decided to finally go.

It was a cold, cloudy day like many winter days in western Washington. You wouldn't think that it would be important except for the first thing that you do when you go to a shrine in wash your hands, in cold outside water. I am telling you right now, inner peace be damned, I am not standing under a waterfall.

Unlike a Christian church a Shinto shrine doesn't hold a regular weekly meeting that you have to attend or be sent to hell. Even on an important day like New year's day there isn't a single service but there was several services occurring every 45 minutes

The ceremony itself was interesting to watch. There was little audience participation beyond the occasional bow. The priest spoke entirely in Japanese. I could barely understand a word since it was a chant. It was difficult to sit through since in a Shinto ceremony you sit in the seiza position which is very uncomfortable. I lasted longer in that position than most, even some of the Asian people.

After the ceremony there were various temple wares that could be bought. Most of those are various charms and lucky objects. I bought a charm to improve artistic talent and a book written by the high priest of the main Tsubaki shrine.

While at the table I asked the priest about fortune telling, since from the various anime show I have watched it is something that people do on New year's day. He told me that the Omokuji (the exact word for the type of fortune telling) was in a different building. Following his directions I saw a booth with a woman who told me to shake a wooden cylinder and a stick will fall out. The stick had a number on it. The lady gave me a piece of paper with a number on it corresponding to the one on the stick. A got a decent fortune and then was on my way.

For those of you who are curious I did see a Miko but she only appeared for about 2 seconds before ducking into a doorway. My trip to the shrine was entertaining and enlightening. I plan to go again when I get the chance.

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