Japanese love to look 初日の出 (hatuhinode) [the first sunrise of the new year] and go to 初詣 (hatsumoude) [visiting the shrine or the temple in the new year] in 正月 (Shōgatsu) [Japanese new year].
I left 6:00AM and went to 神田 (Kanda) by a bicycle yesterday (1/Jan). Kanda is in the central area of Tokyo. I looked the first sunrise from 聖橋 (Hijiri-bashi). Hijiri-bashi is a bridge on the hill of Kanda. Kanda-river flows to south-east. The first sunrise rises far out at lower reaches of the river.
There is a famous shrine " 神田明神 " (Kanda Myōjin) near Hijiri-bashi. I went hatsumoude to there after the first sunrise. There are three gods in Kanda Myōjin. One of them is 平将門 (Taira-no Masakado). He was a man in AD.10C. He fought against the state power and death in the battle. A lot of Japanese future generations have admired him. He had been regarded as a warrior who fought against the strong for the weak at the risk of his life. People have thought he was an origin of the samurai. He is a god of the fight, battle, duel and combat. I also like him.
Kanda Myōjin has been loved by people of Tokyo since Edo age (17C~19C).
After then, I went to 鎧神社 (Yoroi Jinja) near 新宿 (Shinjuku). Yoroi Jinja is a little shrine. "Yoroi" means "armour" in Japanese. Long long ago, 日本武尊 (Yamato Takeru-no Mikoto) dedicated his armour in there. Yamato Takeru-no Mikoto is one of the famous heroes in Japanese mythology. And he is a god of "courage" and "brevity". Needless to say, my character's name "Takeru" originates him. Therefore I greeted him with my thankful feeling in there.
All nature, things, animals and humans have a right to become a member of gods in Japanese tradition. Gods have always stayed near people. And gods have always taken care of people mercifully and affectionately. Japanese have believed so for a long time. Gods are like closed neighbourhoods for Japanese. Japanese have coexisted with the great nature and accepted other cultures since the ancient time. Such a generosity of Japanese tradition originates this unique philosophy.
I went to dojo and trained kendo after the hatsumoude. Yesterday was a terribly cold day. But I was able to get the brilliant first day of the new year.
I hope to make the follow my motto in this year.
" 実践躬行 ", " 道心堅固 "
"Jissen kyukou", "Doushin kengo"
It means "act independently with your own philosophy and principle" and "have a right philosophy and principle firmly with your own consideration and morality".
Today, I will meet my relatives.
I think Japanese Shōgatsu is like European Chiristmas and Chinese 春節 ( chūnjié ). They celebrate that dark-cold winter will be over and light-warm spring will come before long.
European pray, meet relatives, eat special foods and gift to children in Christmas, don't they?
Japanese also pray (=go to a temple or a shrine) [hatsumoude 初詣 ]. Adults gift the paper money to children which is in a little paper bag [otoshidama お年玉 ]. People meet relatives. They eat special foods [osechi-ryouri お節料理 ].
Japanese take a rest from work and school in Shōgatsu like European Christmas holiday.