The first few days of New Year are an interesting time in Japan. The family will have woken up and had breakfast together with the traditional mochi and a little sake then often there will be a visit to their ancestors resting place to say hello in a happy way and leave flowers. And then there will be a visit to shrine to wish for luck and health in the following twelve months.
Meiji Jingu in central Tokyo is a favourite shrine to visit at any time of the year and well worth an afternoons stroll in summer. But at New Year it becomes a little insane. Over a million people will visit within twenty four hours, each washing their hands as they enter and tying a paper wish to the branches of the trees before leaving via the secret exit to Harajuku station only open on these days of the year.
But some people will not be too well and unable to visit the shrine each year. They'll be in hospital and looked after by wonderful staff hoping to make things just a little easier for them. And at one near here the staff made a real shrine for the patients so even those confined to their beds could come along to pray. And that's a really nice thing to do.
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