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I just spent my new year in Japan at Zojoji Temple in Tokyo. At the program: 4 hours waiting, launching of balloons, a group of 70 people and a full of crazy laugh till dawn. This is the story of last night of 2011.
After going to the Comiket 81 in Tokyo Big Sight, on that December 31, 2011, I went to Zojoji Temple in Tokyo. I have joined my friend Aki (responsible of the Meetup group Tokyo Spontaneous Hangout) and those with whom I had spent the Santa Claus Mission in Tokyo on December 25. At the program was a launching of 3000 balloons and a lot of good times.
Zojoji Temple in Tokyo: 4 hours waiting for a balloon
Having left the Comiket 81 a little later than planned I arrived 30 minutes late with meeting point for the night which already looked nice. It was Okay, nobody was sticking rigor on that.
We were about a dozen people together and it was 16:30. We headed to the Zojoji Temple in Minato-Ku in Tokyo. Many People told me to go there at 16:30 was much too early. But this is a very popular event.
Indeed, every year the Zojoji Temple offers a 3000 balloons to launch from 00:00 for the New Year celebration, on which you hang your wishes. But to have your own balloon you have to get one, and they are delivered at 21:00
Here we were standing in the line (we were in the former). We decided to create 3 groups and wait in turn. I was in the first group to stay. And only after 45 minutes waiting they opened the doors and let us entered and get a first ticket. This paper will give us the right to recover our wish card.
We cautionned, therefore, the 2 others groups by sending some text messages and we keep queuing. We were told that the wishes paper will be distributed only at 21:00 or maybe a bit earlier if they 3000 people before. We therefore continued to queue by the cold ambient weather (it was really cold).
At 20:30, the wishes card we ultimately distributed. Phew, what a relief it’s been 4 hours as we waited in the cold. We recovered our yellow paper. And then we headed to an Izakaya (Japanese bar) close to reach Aki and others who came to celebrate this New Year with us.
New Year in Tokyo: 70 people in an Izakaya??
My friend Aki had organized this event trough her Meetup group. We had counted on 25 people to join us. So she had booked an Izakaya for 25 to 30 people.
When we joined them on the spot, at about 21:00, we realized that there already about 30 people there. My group consisted of about 15 people. Se we were almost 50 people at all. And others planned to join us later. So we needed to handle this better, asking for more tables and scheduling of leaving (for my group) at around 22:15 to go pick up or balloons and so we could make room for the other people who will come later.
Despite the large number of participants, the atmosphere was very friendly and we shared drink and laughs together. At 22:15, my group and I left to get our famous balloons for which we waited 4 hours in the cold.
At Midnight we drop our balloons at Zojoji Temple
We arrived at 22:30, and several people had already recovered their balloons. So we went into the building, and very quickly we got our balloons (on presentation of our wishes card). I barely had time to take my balloon in hand, that the string came off and my balloon went to stick to the ceiling. And I lost my first balloon of the night. Fortunately, it was very kindly replaced.
Once outside, we had to wait about an hour. We therefore enjoyed the atmosphere, animations and we laughed a lot. Our new Australian friends (they come fromMelbourne, but I enjoyed telling them that I do preferSydney) were really cool guys…
And then, suddenly, I look towards the sky and I saw that my second balloon was already flying on the black sky of Tokyo. Oh no, it too broke away…. So I ran into the building. I explained the situation (thankfully they spoke English) and they gave me my third balloon of the night. I would be one of the few to have flown 3 balloons at Zojoji Temple in Tokyo to celebrate New Year.
Midnightwas approaching quickly. We met near the central clock. And the countdown began: 5,4,3,2,1 … and 3000 balloons flew in the black sky of Tokyo, staffed by dozens of cameras …. Magnificent.
And now we had waited 4 hours in the cold for a few seconds of happiness. But it worth it. Good memories for sure. Then we went to a bar in Roppongi to spend the rest of the night enjoying good times, the first of the year 2012.
Find out Zojoji Temple in Tokyo on Google Maps