Japan Sees in Year with Shrine Visits

January 1, 2007

Author: Elaine Lies

Original Source: swissinfo

Wire Service: Reuters


TOKYO (Reuters) - Japanese ate rice cakes with their families, gathered to view the sunrise and packed shrines around the nation to pray for a good year as 2007 began on Monday.

The New Year period is this workaholic nation's longest official holiday, with many businesses closed from December 30 to January 3, but stress replaces relaxation for many as they pack themselves into trains and endure endless traffic jams to head for home towns outside the major cities.

Travel away from Tokyo peaked on Saturday, with non-reserved sections of some trains filled to 190 percent of capacity.

"I can hardly wait for the New Year's money I'll get," one boy at Tokyo Station told Japanese television, referring to the money handed out to children by doting relatives.

Although some partied New Year's Eve away with their friends, as in the West, most Japanese spent the night at home, eating foods such as buckwheat noodles and watching television.

At midnight, giant bells at Buddhist temples rang 108 times to dispel the 108 earthly desires of mankind.