|Sojiji Temple, sometime after midnight January 1, 2012|
In her About.com article, Japanese New Year Preparations, Shizuko Mishima notes: "Before midnight on New Year's Eve, temple bells across Japan begin to toll slowly 108 times. It's called joya-no-kane. People welcome the new year by listening to the sound of temple bells. It is said that the temple bell tolls purify ourselves of our 108 worldly desires."
In recent years more than a few New Year's revelers have been observed making their way home toward the valley via the grounds of this temple. Passing by the bell hours after the throngs of visiting pilgrims have returned home and the monks retired to their quarters, these wayward travelers have been known to release the clanger from its shackles and toll the joya-no-kane one more time for good measure before resting their weary heads and slowly rising with the dawn of a new year.
Related post: Beating in the New Year