Monday, January 3, 2011

New Year’s Eve: Kinkakuji in the snow and Joya no Kane

We had a very snowy New Year’s Eve and so we took the advice of a friend and went to see Kinkakuji in the snow. It really does take your breath away.
Our neighborhood:

That night, 9 year old E and I, along with visiting grandparents, went to ring out the old year with Joya no Kane. There are 108 sins in Buddhism and with each toll of the bell one sin is erased so after 108 you are cleared to start sinning again in the new year. We went to two places. One was a small temple just east of Shogoin. They served hot Amazake- sweet nonalcoholic sake with ginger. They started ringing at 10. Then we went to Kurodani temple a little further east. Kurodani is a major magnet for Joya no kane, though not as big as say Chionin. They have a nice large bell and a great view of the city. We got to Kurodani at about 10:40. There we waited in line to get a ticket (they started handing out enough for 108 tolls at 11) and then went into the big hall for some chanting by the monks. Then we all lined up at the bell to ring out the old year at about 11:45. It was fun to ring the bell and E really got a kick out of it. We tried to get some Toshikoshi soba (new years noodles) at a place near Heian shrine, but apparently it was closed, so we went for regular udon at the visitor’s center across from the shrine. We went to check out all the people at the shrine making the first visit of the new year, but didn’t brave the crowds to go all the way up to the front to pay our respects. We did however- brave the crowds at Kitano Tenmangu on the first. That was fun and the food was better too.

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