Tour Report on December 24, 2017 in Asakusa

Thank you for spending your time and joining our tour on Christmas eve,December 24 in Asakusa. In fact it was our last official tour this year. The number of the guests was three from America and Israel. I hope you enjoyed with us.

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Now that 2017 is coming to an end, the new year is quickly approaching. As soon as the clock strikes 12:00am midnight on December 31, the doors of the main hall of Sensoji Temple opens and tens of thousands of people waiting outside make traditional new year’s wishes for the coming year. The temple precincts will be packed with the visitors during the first three days of the year.

The first visit of the year to a temple or shrine is called Hatsumōde which is actually not a long tradition. It started about 140 years ago in the Meiji period. Hatsumōde became popular along the development of rail transportation. People were curious to take a train and visited the distant famous temples and shrines during the new year holidays. Now 80 % of the Japanese people is believed to do hatsumōde. During the Edo period the new year’s activity was generally not uniformed. Some people stayed at home and others went up a nearby hill to worship the first sunrise of the year.

Hatsumōde is followed by shopping. The first sale is another feature of the new year. Fukubukuro, a lucky bag is a bag containing goods to be sold at department stores and shops. This new year custom is thrilling because you buy something you don’t know. Nevertheless fukubukuro is very popular since contents are sold at a substantial discount. The most notable fukubukuro is Shibuya 109 in Tokyo famous for brand items of young women’s fashion such as shoes,clothing and accessories. Thousands of young women,therefore,line up well before the shops are open. What will they do with the items they don’t want? Not to worry. They can trade with other people outside the building. They wave the items from their bags and swap them with other shoppers. Fukubukuro is really one of the new year aspects.
First tour of the new year will be the East Gardens of the Imperial Palace and Meiji Shrine/Harajuku on January 6 and 7, respectively. We will be looking forward to seeing you then. On behalf of TFWT I wish all of you a very prosperous and happy new year.

(posted by Yoshi)

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