Drummer at a New Year’s taiko performance at the Tokyo National Museum in Ueno.
Kanda Myōjin is near Akihabara, the centre of manga/anime culture in Tokyo. It attracts many fans as well as wannabe artists, who leave ema (wooden votive tablets) expressing their wishes at the shrine. The messages range from simple wishes for happiness in the year ahead (I took these photos in February) to very specific wishes for success as a manga artist or, in some quirky cases, happiness for a manga character!
When the end of the year approaches, Japan starts cleaning, and a country that’s already as neat as a pin becomes positively pristine. It’s called osōji (お掃除), the big cleaning before the New Year, and you’re supposed to clean every nook and cranny, every corner and cupboard, until it’s spotless. Houses do it, restaurants do it, temples do it.
Yesterday morning I saw a priest patiently cleaning every item in his small temple in Meguro, looking remarkably jolly about his gargantuan task. As I took a photo of some items on the veranda, he stepped into view. I rather like the end-result of the bowls on the wooden floor, and the two socks entering the scene. He wasn’t angry with me; as a matter of fact, I got a big grin.