The famous lion dance can be seen all over Asia, and of course also here in Japan. At most festivals there is a group of lion heads dancers, “shishi-gashira”, and they interact with the audience before or after the performance by biting the heads of people, something which is supposed to bring good luck and courage! It’s so much fun to watch how different people react to having their head chewed on by a giant wooden lion’s head. Some kids are really stoic about it while others cry, kick and scream to get out of it! I saw this duo perform for the visitors to the New Year’s celebration at Yasukuni Shrine.
Did you get your omikuji for the new year yet? Omikuji are random fortune telling slips that you buy at shrines and certain temples. You can buy them all year round but most people make sure to get one on the first few days after the new year. There are usually twelve levels of fortune, one of which is indicated on the slip you receive. Some slips are very detailed and contain specific advice and information regarding different aspects of your fortune but most people only look wether they get the highest ranked omikuji, the daikichi or the lowest, daikyou, or anything in between. A positive omikuji is supposed to be worn close to your body and most people put them in their wallets. Negative omikuji can be neutralized by tying them at certain places in the shrine or around the branches of trees or as in this case, tied to a rope tied around a holy tree. Most people then go on and get one more omikuji, looking forward to a better fortune this time! I took this photo at Yasukuni shrine near Kudanshita on New Year’s Day.