Kobans. Lanterns. Mountain tops, and a foreign language.

January 1st, 2014, 12pm

It was 8°C with few clouds. The breeze was light.

The photo is from last night at the koban (policy station) in the Sendai station. Sendai, is in the northern region of Japan in the Miyagi prefecture. It is the capitol city, and known for the lush greenery.

I arrived a bit late and by the time I checked into the hotel, bundled and ready to head out for Hatsumode, it was around 10pm. The most trust worthy local source for sight seeing is the information center inside of each JR station. It was closed for the night. So I did the next best thing: approached people asking where they Hatsumode. As off-putting as that may seen (or slightly creepy maybe?), everyone was really kind and overloaded me with information. I kept asking to see the general censuses and decided to go to the jinja that was the most recommended. Meta Google search. I can do that.

There was a lady at the local kiosk, who said she spent every New Year’s Eve working so she doesn’t Hatsumode, but she suggested I ask the Koban. So that I did.

Six police men and one police woman helped me choose a jinja (Shinto shrine), to ring in the new year. Three policemen hovered over the map and gave me directions all at once. I think it’s a Japanese thing, where everyone wants to help. The inefficiency annoys some, but the gesture to want to help makes me happy. Actions > words.

They guided me to Osaki Hachiman-gu, built in 1604 and a national treasure.

High atop a mountain, I welcomed 2014 surrounded with locals who speak with an accent so prominent, it almost doesn’t sound like the Japanese I know and speak.

The hike up to the shrine was enchanting, I will never forget the bright swinging lanterns tied onto the shrine’s gates. The lush trees. The gentle but chilly mountain breeze and the killer night view of Sendai city, twinkling at me from below.

As I stood up on top, looked down below, filled my lungs with the fresh mountain air, I wondered why I didn’t spend more years greeting the new year as I did last night.

I feel good. Alive. Serene.

Thank you Sendai, for an unforgettable New Year’s Eve. I cannot wait to return and get to know you better.

And a happy 2014 to all. May your forthcoming years, be your bests yet.

Next up: my final destination. Bye-bye, Sendai!

*ps: there is one photo of the shrine here. I’ll add more later.

Lia, Christine, Adrian, Cassie and 1 more said thanks.

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Mona Nomura

Hi is my personal and creative outlet. Happy to be here.

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