Thursday, January 05, 2006

How much for 2 Wishes an' A Prayer?

New Year celebration day 2.
My friend took me to a popular shrine in Harajuku. This was the total opposite to the reserved Temple I visited the night before. We traveled down a long walkway decorated with lanterns, sake barrels and tall wooden gateway structures. At the end of the walkway were these beautiful traditional buildings. I felt like I was in a movie and Jet Li was about to kick ass... but wait a minute this isn't China. Scratch that.

First, we washed or mouths and hands to purify ourselves before approaching the shrine. Then we sort of muscled our way to the front and threw some money and said a little prayer. Coins littered everywhere as people hurled money to the front not really caring where it landed. For this same reason, the police were outfitted with helmets and face guards and I made sure to protect my head.

Finally we proceeded to what I call "the wishing fair". Off to one side was the area where you can sign up, for a small fee, to have a priest say a prayer for you. At a booth you can buy charms that you throw at the shrine for specific needs such as success on an exam, success in love, good health, and more. At another booth you can buy charms to hang on your door. At another booth poems. My friend and I both bought a wishing board where you write as many wishes or prayers that you can fit on it. On it I made one wish for my family, one for a dear friend and one for myself.

Whoever said you can't buy happiness surely hasn't been to Japan for New Year's day.

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