I left my First Shrine Visit Of The Year till noon on the third of January this year, the last possible day. But I had an excuse: for the first time I was going to the legendary Meiji Jingu instead of a teensy local shrine, and I had received advice that it would be wise to wait until the crowds had died down a bit.

So I met a friend at one and we entered the gates, past the sign which is one of my all-time favorites:


Which means...

- Entering on a cart or horse;
- Catching the birds or fish;
- Cutting down the bamboo or trees--
Activities falling within the scope of the above [literally "to the right", 'cause the sign is written top-to-bottom, right-to-left] are forbidden.
  Taishō 9, November 1
   Meiji Jingu

Taishō 9 = 1920, so Meiji Jingu is not all that old, really, but it is big and impressive and right next to the plaza where all the Visual-kei cosplayers hang out on the weekend.

Once past the gates, the waiting began. Fortunately, we were entertained by a gigantic, tacky video screen, carefully erected at the end of a long tree-lined avenue so that there was no chance anyone could fail to see it for the entire time they were waiting to get in. The line moved slowly, as did the advertisements for what we were already lined up for, dammit.

After many interlocking queues guided by marching policemen, we were finally at the final waiting station: the throng before the business end of the shrine, where the enshrined beings and donation box are. Although, at busy times like the New Year, the donation box is replaced by a gigantic white sheet so that you can toss your offering in from a distance if you don't feel like waiting to get all the way to the front. We did, though, and it was a bit of a shock when we finally got there, because a cop was crouched directly in front of us, one of several spaced out along the railing, keeping the peace and making sure the old ladies didn't trample anybody.

Next came the final portion of the hatsumōde, and the greatest disappointment of the day: the omikuji, purchased from a fake, part-time shrine maiden. Did you know that the Meiji Jingu omikuji do not include a fortune? It was just a tanka about the need to polish my heart as though it were a mirror. Noble sentiments, but as Hui-Neng said, 菩提本无树,明镜亦非台,本来无一物,何处惹尘埃?

(Or maybe it just means that I need to cut my cholesterol intake.)

P.S. Where did the word "moude" come from? Probably some form of mau or mawiru (one of the variants written with the 参 character, anyway) + idu (出づ).

Popularity factor: 0

Comment season is closed.