Hatsumoude 2 - Shibamata

Following on from our New Year's Eve bell-ringing pilgrimage, we went down to the nearby Taishakuten Temple in Shibamata a couple of days later, to pray for good luck for the new year. Actually, not being particularly religious or superstitious, I went down mainly to to soak up the atmosphere and to get myself some tasty festival food; a surprisingly scrumptious kebab, as it turned out. It must be 10 years since I had one of those. Probably don't need another for at least 10 more.

Shibamata is absolutely mobbed around New Year time, and is probably the most popular place for hatsumoude in our area after Narita-san. There was a real buzz of excitement at the station and on the narrow and tightly-packed shopping streets leading towards the temple, even narrower today due to the myriad food stalls and the fact that all the regular shops had sales points set up on the street. Not so much as exit through the gift shop, as exit the gift shop through the temple.

At the temple, we got in line to waft the lucky smoke into our own faces, we got in line to throw money over other people's shoulders - they were 7 or 8 deep at the altar - into a huge stretched out sheet just inside the temple, to make a prayer. We got in line to draw our fortune for the year. We got in line to buy a charm, we even got in line to take photographs at the purifying water trough. Then we went out of the temple and queued again for lunch (the aforementioned kebab for me).

It sounds like a bit of a nightmare now I'm reading it back, but it wasn't. It wasn't annoying, it was just busy; and actually it was fun. There was lots to see, both at the temple and on the route to and from the station, cool shops and the like, and at least 3 guys dressed as Tora-san!


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