It’s the new year and I wanted to start things off right. Left on a whim and went to a local stop along my train line here in Japan. This stop was called Sakurai (桜井). Its a medium sized town with quite a lot of shrines and temples like many other places in Japan. It is located in the Nara prefecture (奈良県). One of my coworkers at one of the schools I worked at recommend I go to one of the temples here for New Years. You see in Japan when it comes to New Years, they do it differently than in the west. Many families will go to shrines and temples to pay homage and pray. Its a custom called “Hatsumode” （初詣）. I find it really interesting as its pretty different from what I grew up with. One temple I came across had around 1,000 people in this relativity quiet town which was surprising. Hard to tell by the picture, but there were huge lines for most of the places. People would walk over to the shrines and throw a coin into the boxes they have, then proceed to pray. They also had a gong/bell at this temple which people would ring when they finished. That was how I found this place actually.
I found many other shrines and temples as well, and while they were all beautiful this one stuck out the most purely because of how many people were there. I thought going out and going someplace random would be a good way to start the new year and it certainly felt good. I traveled a good bit last year and want to go even more this year. Even more importantly than that though I want to learn how to appreciate every part of those adventures. Its great to go see new places but that really only holds importance when you can take something important from them and continue to live positively. For me, that’s one reason to travel. Get out of the usual schedule and see something new that invigorates us like we often were when we were little kids. Let’s make 2017 the best yet, peace.