Sunday, March 22, 2015


This new years, we went to the Shinkai Jinja in Nagano, which is a major shrine in that area, as well as sharing my inlaws family name. It was a freezing cold crisp morning, but the snow had stopped falling and some sun was filtering through branches of immense pine trees. We went up cobblestone steps and got to the place you're supposed to wash your hands before you enter the shrine itself.
I stop and give it a sceptical look. There is an icicle forming on the handle of the ladle used to scoop water, and also there is no way to dry your freezing hands. I guess the gods want you shivering when you go to get your new year's blessing.
I notice most people ignore the fountain and keep walking, so I  guiltily do the same, dirty hands and all. 
We walk up the steps and get to the old wooden structure, and I giggle and try to remember the order you do the prayer in. Is it, money in the box? then clap? then bow? Definitely money first. Then you pray with your hands touching, and bow at some point! Really, I know what I'm doing! 
So I akwardly do some rendition of this ceremony.
"Thank you for a great year", I mumble my 'prayer' while bowing. Are you supposed to ask for something? I would feel strange asking something of a stranger..
We then go to the stand where you can buy various trinkets, like good luck charms, 'daruma' heads, porcelin figures of the zodiac animal for the year, and... omikuji.
Omikuji is where you draw a number randomly from a box, then get a slip of paper with your fortune on it, ranging from 'very good' to 'very bad'. 
'you should get one!' my inlaws cheer me on. 
"ahh,... I'm always afraid I'm going to get bad luck..." I say, hemming and hawing.
"Are you superstitious?"
I think I am not superstitious, but I don't want one.
But I go ahead and get one anyway, just to prove I'm not a chicken!

... I drew BAD LUCK.

(bum bum bum,...)
When we got home, I started noticing unlucky things happening... ok, they probably would have happened anyway. But STILL. 
-our garbage bag , and only ours, was strewn across the street with all its gross contents , because some cat got hungry and noticed a delicious smell of fish kitchen scraps on garbage day
-When we went shopping we got a 'lucky bag' of wine (a special bargain from the import store).
When we unpacked the groceries, the 'lucky bag' FELL TO THE GROUND shattering glass and wine all over.
That was particularly sad.
Other things happened like toddler poo getting everywhere, but that is a daily occurance so I will write it off.
 ANYWAYS! Bad luck.

It turns out you can go to another shrine and do 'omikuji' again, and so the very next weekend we wento to a major shrine within tokyo, and I redrew my fate. 
This time?

well, I will take what I can get.
So far, nothing too terrible has happened. ;)