My goal for every New Year’s is to perform my Hatsumode at three shrines before the rise of morning sun. Personally I don’t ask for anything when I pray at these shrines, I just express gratitude for being alive and in good health to see the start of a new year, and to pay my respects for the coming year. The last of the three shrines I visited this year was right in line with the large Yasukuni Shrine and the tiny Tsukudo Shrine, it was in fact the parent shrine of that last little shrine, the hill top Tsukudohachiman Shrine (筑土八幡神社). It’s origins have been lost in time and war, but the original shrine was inaugurated here sometime between 809 AD and 823 AD, after an old man in the area claimed to have heard from the god Hachiman in this spot. In 1945 AD the shrine was completely destroyed by the US Air Force in one of the many raids of that year, only the Torii (built in 1726), the gate, remained mostly unharmed from shrapnel and fire and it is today the oldest Torii in Shinjuku ward. I didn’t get a good photo of it unfortunately.
More photos of the wonderful back streets of Kagurazaka. The area is not only home of the last genuine geisha house in Tokyo, it is also traditionally nicknamed Little Paris, Petit Paris or even Furansuzaka (French Hill) for the historic connections with France here. Although the place has become more Japanese over the last decade or so there are still a huge number of French restaurants and lots of French people living in the area (well, comparatively of course!). The backstreets are often paved in the manner of Paris and it reminds me a lot of Gion in Ginza. Welcome to one of the hippest areas in Tokyo right now!
Kagurazaka is the name of one of Tokyo’s hippest towns. The little town inside the metropolis has been a favorite drinking and dining spot for as long as Edo was a capital and all through its rebirth as Tokyo. Still today the backstreets of Kagurazaka is an interesting maze of little bars, big restaurants, tiny eateries and even Tokyo’s last properly functioning geisha house. I took a stroll in the area a few weeks ago and got these photos. More to come!
The last of the Torinoichi visit photographs for this year. It is a great tradition to watch, for both locals and tourists, with the clapping, the rhythmic chanting, the colorful and over the top kumade decorations on sale and of course the food stands selling everything from grilled fish to bottles of beer. If you missed it this year you can set your alarm clocks for the 2015 dates, starting one minute past midnight on November 5th, 17th and 29th. Enjoy!