Saturday, January 3, 2015

Nakayamdera New Year's

I went to Nakayamadera today for the New Year's festivities.  In Kyoto I was at a shrine and now a temple.  Such a blur of Shintoism and Buddhism, mixing together to create a unique feeling of religiosity.  And in each of these places, there is a blend of secular and sacred; vendors selling grilled food and carnival prizes compete with the monks selling talismans and incense for good fortune in the coming year.  It is all part of the celebration.

I recall when I was a school child in America that school began quite abruptly close to the New Year.  It seemed the year changed and suddenly everyone was back to work in a hung-over haze on January 2nd.  Even as a child it seemed quick.  Today the crowds were nearly as full as two days ago in Kyoto.  In Japan, the beginning of the new year receives its time to be acknowledged.  It feels far more natural.  Of course, it's just another day, just a changing of arbitrary numbers that organize time.  But it can also be a chance to reflect.  Even in America, people take the opportunity to make New Year's resolutions, thinking about the previous year and what might be improved or desired in the coming one.  Perhaps we could take a little more time to breathe in this arbitrary turning over, as the Japanese culture permits, allowing our desires for good fortune, good health, good living practice, to sink in a little further.  Whether it is to some god or to ourselves, we can take advantage of this communal marker to aspire or reflect; with all the people of the world, we can wish for the better based on what we have learned from the past.

within the gate, leading to the main buildings of the temple

vendors in the shadows of the temple buildings

more vendors and the main building of Nakayamadera 

burning of the old to make way for the new

walking to and from the main temple buildings

the main gate

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