Japan! New Years Eve

For New Years Eve we decided to go out to Odaiba. We’ve been there before (remember the Statue of Liberty?), but there was a bunch that we didn’t get to do when we were there. So we got off at a different stop, and saw a whole new set of things.

But before we get to that- here’s a picture of the kadomatsu outside our apartment building. There are two of them, and they are intended to welcome kami (spirits) of the harvest. They stay up until Jan. 7. We’ve seen a number of them around Tokyo.


At the train station in Shimbashi, where we transferred to the monorail over the Rainbow Bridge, we saw this. Sadly, we could not ride it.


Once in Odaiba, we finally got to go on the Daikanransha Ferris Wheel. The girls have been wanting to go on it since we got here. It is 377 feet tall, and used to be the tallest Ferris Wheel in the world. (The London Eye beat it- so you know for Trivial Pursuit.) It takes 16 minutes to go all the way around, and you only go around once on one ticket.


One of the views from the top.


Afterward, we went into an arcade type place (to use the restroom) and found these crazy photo booths.




Then we went into Mega Web, a huge car … place. Showroom, I guess. This concept car cracked me up. I’m assuming it’s from an anime I’m not familiar with.



A One Piece bouncy house.


And then we found the Hello Kitty mecca. It was a store/entertainment area, with arcade type games where you could win prizes. There were little things to ride, and apparently there’s a live Hello Kitty show, but we missed it.







As our wanderings continued, we found a pet store, and Zoe fell in love with this puppy. She really thinks she wants a beagle, and I really think it’s never going to happen. But it sure was cute.


There was a car history museum, and we found Professor Z from Cars 2. The girls almost died.

The car museum was in a mall called Venus Fort, which is decorated like the Venetian in Vegas. Very odd to find in the middle of Tokyo.


The cool lights hanging from the ceiling changed colors to correspond to the music that was playing dramatically.  That’s not there all the time though, it’s a Christmas/ New Years thing.




Another (albeit out of order) picture of the Ferris Wheel.


A really cool, futuristic building.


And speaking of the future, a giant Gundam robot, here to save us all. That’s what Gundam does, right? I’ve never watched it, but I assume this is a good guy.


What happens when you try to translate English to Japanese.


The kadomatsu in front of the building, complete with little manga character face.


We got home in the afternoon, and since the girls said that they wanted to try to stay up until midnight, they took a nap. Well, Tiny took a nap, Z just laid in her bed. And then the staying up until midnight began. We watched Kōhaku Uta Gassen, which is a huge New Years variety show that features the most famous musical groups of the year. The women compete against the men, and you get extra points for showmanship, so it is totally crazy. I highly recommend hitting YouTube to see if anything is up from it. We all were highly entertained, and the girls were tickled to be watching something live at the same time as lots of other people in Japan.

At about 11:30 we bundled up and headed down the street to the Otori Jinja shrine. We timed it perfectly and got there about 10 minutes before midnight. There were a bunch of people there, but it wasn’t a crazy crowd. When the clock struck midnight, the bells at the shrine rang and drums were beaten. Then we waited in line to put coins into the offering box and ring the bell. Then you bow two times, clap two times, make your New Years wish/prayer, and bow again. The girls thought very seriously about their wish.



Having literally rung in the new year, we came home and the girls conked out immediately. Tiny slept in until 9, and Zoe didn’t get up until 10:30. We decided to go out to Yoyogi Park, sidestepping it’s next door neighbor Meiji Jingu, which was a total madhouse. (You’re supposed to go to a shrine on New Years, but it can be up to a couple of days later and still count. Meiji Jingu is one of Tokyo’s major shrines, so TONS of people go there.)


It was a bit colder than we expected, so Tiny ended up with my scarf.



It was a wonderful New Years  Eve,  a wonderful New Years Day, and here’s to a wonderful New Year.

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