New Years in Japan means a trip to the Shrine (Shinto), we went to the small one in town as usual.
You need to take your previous years 'charms' back and make a small donation so that the shrine will burn them for you. We took last years arrow but then we remembered we were in the UK for new years last year so the arrow might have been two years old, oops.
Looks like these fellas were enjoying themselves, there was quite a bit of laughter and banter going on, I suspect copious amounts of sake is consumed whilst taking on the job of burning the charms.
We bought a new arrow, one to ward off bad luck and we all got a omikuji which is a fortune telling paper.
Daddy-ebi translated mine apparently everything was blah, blah, blah be patient, whatever the section was about patience will be required (or maybe that was just my husband trying to drop a hint!)
If your omikuji is not very good, you can tie to to the post in the shrine area and the bad luck will stay there, looks like I wasn't the only one who didn't have great fortune coming their way.
And of course we have to pray to the various gods, the big wooden box in the entrance way is where you throw your coins, then ring the bell by shaking the rope, this is to wake the god(s) up, clap twice then bow your head and say your prayer.