New Year's Eve came and went in a typical Japanese fashion for us and most of our guests. Although there were all night options to be found in town, most of us opted for a reflective bowl of toshikoshi soba (traditional New Year's dish) and then a short walk down from the hotel to the Nakiyama Lifts to enjoy a short but lively Taiko drumming demonstration. Free nightskiing was the attraction for many.
The chill of the hour ensured that we were ready and waiting at Suwa Shrine at the stroke of midnight to contribute the customary amount to shrine's coffers, ring the bell, and then to clap our hands three times and offer a short prayer for the coming year. By the time we left, the formerly silent shrine hosted a long lineup back to the street, with some contemplative and others a little more boisterous as they were just getting warmed up for the night ahead.
Waiting for everyone the next morning was the traditional drink of Japanese Sake in which to properly greet the new year!
Welcome to 2011!