So in the end I wandered over to the palace on my own. Security was what you expect at a place where the emperor of Japan was going to show and the place was packed! We missed the first…viewing, but I only had to que for an hour to see the second. It was quite…I don’t know. Everyone seemed so excited. They’d been given flags of Japan outside (even me) and there was secret security in the crowds…well not that secret because they all had obvious ear pieces and were wearing suits. The speech itself kinda went like this (the video is a lot clearer then this >< )
When the speech was done everyone filed out and I was able to meet up with Hannah and Myra and her friends Chee Sang (or Cheese) and Jenna (whom I’d met before at Kareoke). But sadly Jenna wasn’t feeling well and had to rush off, which left just the four of us.
We went and found awesome lunch of tenpura don (deep fried stuff on rice) and then decided to head over to Yasakuni shrine. On the way though the streets were full of Japanese Nationalists in their black vans (and a few white) with the Japanese flag blasting old music and probably preaching about how the Emperor should be put back in power and all the foreigners should be kicked out. (They’re like the BNP only they have vans with speakers on them). It is a bit scary hearing them though when you know you’re the one being discriminated against.
Yasakuni shrine is a bit of a controversial one because it’s where the Japanese war dead are buried, including the war criminals. It’s the one where whenever the Prime Minister of Japan goes to pray there, there are masses of protests in China and Korea, because it’s full of the people who did atrocities to them. But despite this it was new years and the shrine was packed with food vendors and people going to pray for the new year. None of us prayed though knowing it’s history, but it was interesting looking around and it had some pretty displays of music and a nice Japanese garden.
After we all wandered back to Tokyo station and Myra and Cheese left Hannah and I felt like we hadn’t quite had enough and decided to walk back to Morishita from Tokyo station. It was far but really nice just to be able to walk through the streets. Also we stumbled across a shrine just before it was closing and I was able to pray for the new year again. Let’s hope all this praying will make the new year worth while.