Kyoto is a spectacular place to ring in the new year.
Ben and I went to Yasaka Shrine near Chion-in Temple. We were originally planning to go to a temple, because of the buddhist tradition of bell ringing just before midnight, but we got bored waiting in a line that started queueing at 7 pm. Temples do not allow food, especially meat, and since the shrine not more than 200 meters away had a huge array of fair food, and activities, we decided the shrine was the more enjoyable way to go.
We stood in a huge and endless crowd, there were thousands of people on the grounds of the shrine, and thousands more waiting on Gion street, each of them waiting their turn to ring a bell, to rid themselves of last years troubles, and welcome good fortune in the new year. The temple and shrine grounds were full to past capacity, you had to go in the direction of the crowd. If the crowd started moving, you moved with it. It was a little scary at times, but it was amazing to be one of a million people participating in similar identical ceremonies all over Japan.
I am so glad we went to Yasaka Shrine, it was a once in a lifetime experience, and a night I will never forget.