Oh hello there. Sorry I’ve been gone so long.

Well well well. It’s twenty eleven. And I resolve to blog more often. So let’s get started, shall we? The new year began with a journey northeast. Not too far northeast, but just a hop skip and a bump beyond Seattle, to a little shrine, Tsubaki Shrine to be exact. Tucked away on a gravel road called Crooked Mile, this shrine just seems to appear out of nowhere. The untrained eye might miss it entirely, if it weren’t for one simple sign, constructed out of the woods that envelop it.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

ok, so maybe that’s stone, not wood. Even more majestic.

As you walk down the pathway there suddenly sounds the deep, resonating “BOOM” of a drum. It starts out slowly, but gets faster and faster as you draw nearer to the shrine. Almost as if it were the heart of the woodlands you are approaching. Just as suddenly as it began, it stops. And the only sound is that of tiny bells and trickling fountains.

After saying hello to the various Gods, we entered the shrine and there witnessed an extraordinary ceremony that we were lucky to be a part of. (actually, if you make a donation, you get to join the ceremony. so luck doesn’t really have much to do with it.) We were told many secrets about 2011 that the unfortunate souls who didn’t attend the ceremony will never know…until it’s too late! MWAHahahahaa!!

This sort of ceremony is customary in Japan–every 1st day of the new year, Japanese people trek to various shrines in order to receive advice and luck in the new year. What is your January 1 tradition??

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