Last year, to ring in 2008, I went to Zojoji, a large temple in downtown Tokyo. It was fun, but really crowded and I wanted to see something different. My friend who lives in Koenji (a few stops from my house) recommended we go there, as it's well known for exciting night life and cheap bars/restaurants.
Disappointingly, almost everything was closed. It was like a ghost town. I was actually a little creeped out by how empty it was. My friend heard of a temple near by, so we went there. It was a bit of a hike, and pretty strange because the streets were practically deserted, but when we got there, it was quite a nice place. I want to go back during the day.
New year's was rung in an odd way for me. There was no grand count down, no fireworks, no Aud Lang Syne playing, just a large bell and a little bit of cheering. I kinda liked it better than normal.
Then, in the first few moments of 2009, some locals took a portable shrine and paraded around the neighborhood.
While back by the temple there was the usual fair of sweets, yakisoba, games for kids, and of course takoyaki:
I've seen lots of people with these rods spinning them around in front of the portable shrines. This one wasn't any different.
The whole neighborhood had a very timeless feel. It was a gorgeous place, but there were no neon signs, no modern looking shops sticking out, there was a McDonalds, but they were closed and kind of hidden, but just old houses, shops, and buildings.
After the parade, all the people carrying the mikoshi (portable shrine) took a break. One of those people was a friend of my friend, and we all got chatting and headed off to their house.
After way too much to drink, I fell asleep at someone's house in this neighborhood and we all woke up and headed off, but not before I could snap this picture.
What is that building? Why have I never known this part of town existed? I thought I knew Koenji pretty well, but that just goes to show there's always something new to learn.