Dec. 17, 2015 UPDATE
Feature
Kyoto is full of excitement as New Year approaches
Part 3

Have a delicious and fun New Year holiday!

To get a good start on the year, eating something delicious is a must. It is a lot of fun and gets you in the mood to do your best in the coming year. At New Year in Kyoto there is nothing but good things to eat. Getting your fill of special lucky foods for New Year is a good idea. There are also plenty of ceremonies that are both fun to watch and fun to join in. You can go on enjoying the New Year mood until the middle of January. (That said, if have go back to work after New Year, take it seriously!) We will introduce some special New Year goods and fun ceremonies at shrines and temples.
You can’t start the year without some of this!
Shirukou
“Shiromiso zoni”is a classic New Year dish in Kyoto. We recommend Shirukou, an established restaurant famous for its soups. This dish is highlighted by the combination of sweet, rich white miso and konbu dashi. This is accented by the refreshing fragrance of yuzu. The thick and hearty soup will keep you warm. We also recommend the Rikyu Bento Box. It includes kayaku gohan (rice with chicken and vegetables), stewed vegetables, and white miso soup.
Suetomi
There are some Japanese sweets you can only eat at New Year. The Hanabira-Mochi at long-standing Japanese sweets shop Suetomi is one of these. Chewy mochi is wrapped around miso-flavored white bean paste and crisp stewed burdock root. It is on sale from mid-December until January 15th. Suetomi also sells a variety of seasonal sweets and senbei rice crackers with great attention given to the flavors, colors, and shapes.
Sushi Otowa
In Kyoto, people eat hot sushi in the wintertime. It is called Mushi Sushi. Located in the entertainment district, Sushi Otowa is popular sushi restaurant among locals and tourists alike. It sells Mushi Sushi from late October until early April. Under a generous topping of shredded omelet, it is filled with sliced eel and sour vinegared rice. Pick up the bowl and gobble it all up. The steam rising from the steamer in the shop is also a must-see.
Lots of fun ceremonies!
Kemari Hajime (Shimogamo Shrine)
The event starts at 1:30 PM on January 4th on the grounds of Shimogamo Shrine. This is a reenactment of a traditional game played in the Imperial Court long ago. Courtiers in splendid clothing kick around a single ball while shouting. Note the skillful footwork. The surrounding gallery can get quite boisterous, with lots of shouting and laughing.
Toka Ebisu Festival (Ebisu Shrine)
The event starts at 11:00 AM on January 10th on the grounds of [[[Ebisu Shrine]]]. Merchants gather in Kyoto to get pieces of bamboo blessed with prayers for success in business. The area around [[[Ebisu Shrine]]] is lined with stalls selling food and lucky charms, and the air is full of enthusiasm. Large crowds can be expected.
Toshiya (Sanju-sangendo Hall)
This event is held at Sanju-sangendo Hall on the nearest Sunday to January 15th. People confident in their archery skills and men and women coming of age (turning 20) that year come from around the country to shoot at a target 1 meter wide placed 60 meters away. Take note of the colorful finery and serious expressions on the young people coming of age.
Daiko Daki (Hojuji Temple)
This event is held at Hojuji Temple on the same day as Toshiya (Sanju-sangendo Hall). At this ceremony to pray for good health in the New Year, they sell daikon cooked in a large iron kettle for 1,000 a bowl. This is called Gomaki, and it comes as a set with a paper slip inscribed with a prayer to put up on the grounds. Note that it is sold over three separate sessions (10 AM/ 12 PM/ 2 PM). *Other events called Daiko Daki are held at other shrines near the end of the year.

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