The Big Bang

Tokyo, Japan
The Fest: The Japanese take the quiet and meditative route: Large bells in Buddhist temples toll 108 times, signifying the passing of the year's hardships. When the last dies down, the New Year has begun. What Makes It Special: Millions travel to the shrines and temples to make their first prayer of the year, a tradition called hatsumode. They might also head to the seaside to catch the first sunrise. The Libation: Sweetened rice wine, drunk hot, which helps pilgrims keep warm during the long hours waiting in line to enter shrines. Ideal For: Finding that Zen place within oneself for 2008; bragging to friends about it upon returning home. The Next Day: A guest might wander serenely among the stalls set along the path to the famous Meiji shrine, buying New Year's trinkets and sweet mochi balls.

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Information may have changed since date of publication. Please confirm details with individual establishments before planning your trip.



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