This New Year 2022, Kyoto City warned people that Omicron infections were increasing and to stay home. Despite this, in Ebisu-Jinja at Miyagawa-cho, hundreds of masked Kyoto families poured into the old Shrine to keep them from illness. Under the great-great-grandfather trees, near midnight, the altar there, they clapped the Ancient Gods to awaken them, closing their eyes and hands in prayer. Facing the mysteries, and a wall of big wooden sake kegs and bottles of local Japanese Nihonshu. To their left young Shrine Maidens danced on the covered verandah, waiving bamboo branches which were sold immediately to the moving line of supplicants. Older people, and couples, were leaving, some holding babies, and with the fresh branches in hand, stepped outside and were met by a narrow street lined with busy food stalls and souvenirs stands. This is where the Japanese always were drawn to for help, collectively and personally, to the cathedral of Gods in the trees. We were safe and happy to be there.
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