When I was in my teens, I decided I was going to follow Shintoism, completely overlooking the fact that it is more a set of nuanced, culturally-specific customs ingrained in the collective Japanese psyche rather than a religion that one could simply “join”. Upon further research into the rituals and practices it…
The vast majority of festivals in Japan are not unusual. Then, there are some that are referred to as "kisai" (奇祭) or "strange festival." This is one of those.
In Japan, New Year's isn't just about the dropping of the ball. It's the turning of a new leaf, and with it come numerous traditions from fortune telling to warding off evil spirits and drawing cute anime girls on wooden plaques... Wait, what?
During New Year's, Japanese people visit shrines and temples. There are many traditions observed during this period, such as omikuji—a type of fortune telling. In the last few years, one ancient tradition in which people write wishes on wooden plaques is now taking a decidedly otaku bent.