Awakened by the room cleaners around one o’clock, I started 2012 with a shower followed by an earthquake.
Then I told myself… now this is Japan!

People working normally even on the very first day of the new year, waking up all the gaijin of the hotel and getting some random insults back, or cold stares from westerners not used to wake up so early after the biggest night of the year.

Earthquakes striking when you’re at the highest floor of your building, so you can feel them pretty well.

Yesterday we headed out into the night for a meeting with a friend of mine, Alix from Switzerland, a girl I met almost three years back when we were in the same class at Sendagaya Japanese Language school in Takadanobaba for about 6 months. Nice to keep in touch and see her after so much time, wish I were able to come more often to the big J city.
The place we choose is The Lock Up, a sort of spooky izakaya whose theme is a prison haunted by monsters (like Dracula, Frankenstein and such). Silly and crazy the japanese way, but funny nonetheless and the food is actually very nice, with a good selection and reasonable prices.

Around midnight we went down in the streets in front of Studio Alta, but the big screen wasn’t lit and there was no countdown at all, only a mildly drunk couple of japanese guys who climbed a lamp post to shout to the crowd a countdown of sorts. Quite disappointing, but someone told me that in Shibuya police officers where actually saying to the crowd something like “there will be no countdown, no reason to gather“. Not sure it’s true, but what the hell?

Anyway, after Shinjuku’s failure we took the Yamanote to the nearby Shibuya and as usual the big crossing was crammed with people of all nationalities, everybody was excited and the usually shy japaneses approached foreigners like us to say “happy new year”.

We stopped in a small (go figure uh?) pub full of expats and some tourists (basically us I guess) for a few drinks, then we split around 3:30 with me and Marco heading back and the others going for a Roppongi place to dance some salsa.

On our way back we discovered, much to our dismay, that all the lines to Minami-Senju where not running, so after a little chat with Simon, an english guy who asked us informations and ended giving us directions, we started moving towards our hotel from Ueno.

One hour walk in the chilling climate of the first of Senso-ji in Asakusa, where people were still gathering for the ritual of the hatsumōde (first visit to the temples of the new year). Food stalls where everywhere and really a lot of people was lining up to enter the temple to pay their homages, around 4:30, that is.

My second new year’s eve in Japan and definitely better than my first try… but I’ll have to try some more, wouldn’t I?

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