Last night we celebrated New Years Eve by staying up late (yes, even Alek!) to walk to a temple called Shokokuji, about 25 minutes (north of Doshisha University).
On NYE in Japan, the Buddhist temples ring their bell (if they have one) at least 108 times (for 108 sins) right before midnight..it's called joya no kane. Some temples let the public take turns ringing it; others (like Chionin) have the monks do the ringing.
Anyway, I could tell from the Shokokuji website that they had a bell, and we took a chance that they would ring it. We got there at 11:15pm, but it was veerrrry quiet. We were about to leave, thinking we were wrong. But then I decided to ask a small group of people standing around if there would be joya no kane. Yes, it was right here! It would start at 11:45. We were only about 15th in line. We are so lucky...
The bell was up in a tower, at the top of these stairs. The five of us took off our shoes, climbed up, and rang the bell together as a "family ring."
Then we walked out, and took a taxi home. It was the perfect, quiet new years eve temple scene. This was the latest that Alek had ever been awake without a meltdown. (I guess he will be ready for college someday.)
Here is the tower with the bell, and the boys. Photos in the dark are rather difficult--sorry....
This morning was New Year's day, of course. We slept in until 10am (another first!) and had Ozoni Soup for breakfast. This is a simple miso/chicken based soup with mizuna greens in it, that is poured over a broiled mochi cake (a kind of squishy rice ball).
Here's the soup:
And here's the komochi before you cook it.
Here's what happened when I broiled it...one big mochi mass!
Max and I loved the grilled mochi, just plain, or maybe with a little butter and cinnamon....
So we ate that, and then played around at home, relaxing.
Later we took a walk. We visited our snowmen...one of them had keeled over.
and on the Pachinko Parlors:Eventually, we got to Shimogamo Jinja, one of the more popular shrines to visit on New Years' Day. This is a World Heritage Site (one of 17 in Kyoto), with artifacts dating from 10.000 b.c.!
Here is a traditional mochi arrangement.