The watching of the first sunrise of the new year is a Japanese tradition I had not heard of before, but makes sense when you consider that Japan is the Land of the Rising Sun. Our friends met at the castle at 4 am, but since Matt and I stayed up to see the fireworks at midnight on New Year's Eve we did not drag ourselves out of bed until 4:30, leave the house at 5am, and stop for coffee along the way. The sky was still very dark, and on top of the castle there was no shelter from the strong wind that morning. We all huddled in blankets attempting to use the ancient walls as a shield from the wind. I had my face under the blanket, but when I emerged as the sky grew lighter there was a crowd of people gathered.
Everyone stood facing the sun and waited for the first rays to appear. The rays broke through the clouds as the sky turned orange. It was beautiful, and I thought we had successfully seen the sunrise. However, everyone waited until the sun itself peeked over the clouds, and a cheer went around the crowd.
We took pictures before heading down the many stairs and back home where I promptly ate breakfast and fell back asleep. I am so grateful we were invited to this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity even though I am sure my friends did not know they were getting a very sleepy, cold Amanda without breakfast when they first sent the invitation.