Whew, what a crazy, but fun, weekend! The New Year’s holiday is the most celebrated in Japan. Most people are off work for the entire week, and many shops and restaurants are also closed for several days. We spent January 2nd and 3rd at The New Sanno Hotel in downtown Tokyo to take in some of the festivities. Our first stop was the Imperial Palace to see the Emperor speak to the masses. This is one of only 2 days per year that the gates of the palace are opened to let in spectators. There were long lines for security, but they moved quickly.
These are the gates that are usually closed.
The guard at the gate.
I think this is the palace, but this is the closest we got.
The Emperor and his family appeared in this window at the specified time.
The crowd went wild! But this is all I could see of the Emperor. (There were people handing out Japanese flags at the entrance.)
And, after the one minute speech, the masses exited. Apparently over 1 million people pass through the gates every January 2nd. I believe it!
An Imperial horseman (or a cop). The girls thought it was a prince, from the looks of the uniform!
We are glad we went to the palace once, but I don’t think we will make an annual event of it. We happened upon this beautiful garden on our way back to the train station. Flowers still in bloom in January!
Also, two stray cats. Ella and Eva loved watching them. It looks as though they are finding food somewhere!
We made time for swimming at the hotel, of course!
In the evening, we walked around the very exclusive Roppongi Hills shopping district. The decorations were beautiful, and Tokyo Tower is the backdrop.
The trees changed colors, too!
Happy New Year!