Back in 2008, Japan became my second home. My first holiday there was New Years at my best friend’s mom’s house in Nagoya. New Year’s Eve was spent chatting, eating Osechiriyori with friends while watching ridiculous specialty programs on TV. We laughed and drank until we crashed on the couch.
The next morning we got up before sunrise to head to the nearly 2000-year-old Atsuta-jingu the largest shrine in the city that holds imperial relics as well as the Goddess of the sun Amaterasu. With directions from my Japanese mom I cleansed myself in holy water then we battled our way through a massive crowd to throw money at the shrine and pray by clapping three times and bowing. Lastly, we headed to the gift shop to buy that year’s zodiac animal trinket: the Mouse.