31 December 2011

Kami Messengers in Nara, A Karaoke New Year + 108 Bell Rings

I've spent a lot of kickass New Year's Eve's, but this may be arguably be the coolest one yet. LB + I anxiously waited to meet Eikichi (my Japanese cousin) + his globetrotting wife, Megumi in the lobby of our hotel in Shiromi, Osaka, for the first time! And I have to say: It was fucking amazing! I've been looking at pictures of Eikichi since I was a bambino + growing up, my sobo used to talk about him + show us updated pictures of him + the rest of the family for as long as I can remember, so finally getting to spend with him was fucking cool as shit!

After the initial meet + greet, we took the train to Nara, had a light snack. Then, LB + I gave them all of the half-ripped gifts we'd carried with us all the way from LA. Two hours later, we made our way into Nara Koen + fed the deers little cakes they sell on the side of the walkway. Eikichi bought both of us little prayer books, which are sort of like spiritual passports that you can carry to each temple/jinja to receive a sort of prayer written in exquisite calligraphy as well as an original temple/jinja stamp. And you can collect these go-nyūshu, slowly turning the book into a good luck amulet! After walking all around the park + seeing the Kasuga Taisha, the massive Buddha at Todaiji, the largest wooden building in the whole world, located inside the daibutsu den (sugoi!), getting our fortune taken at the Kasuga Shrine where LB + I both received a "Great Good Fortune" where we learned that our desires will come to pass in accordance with our dreams + then taking a million pictures of the five-story pagoda (Sarasawa no ike), we took a little break, ate zenzai sweet beans that were fucking delicious, + eventually made our way to the train.

We returned to Ōsaka + walked through Dōtonbori again where we ate soba noodles for the new year at this tiny noodle joint on the second floor off the main drag that reminded LB + I a lot of La Valle in Microcentro. Afterwards, we sang our asses off at Karaoke (our first time together), then took a taxi to the Shitennoji shrine where we lit incense + thanked the Buddha/cosmos for all of the many blessings given to us + then, we spent our first new year in Japan listening to a 108 bell rings, giving donations + asking for blessings of prosperity, protection, fertility + success for the coming year. It was one of the most amazing new year's yet. And now, for pics:

In Nara:

Break time!:

On the Train back to Ōsaka:

Back in Ōsaka:

At the Noodle Joint:

Back in Dōtonbori:

At Authentic Karaoke. The Real Deal, Man:

At Shitennoji Temple