The temple lights shine at night like a beacon calling forth those who would like to offer prayers to the gods. For a country that has no official religion, religious icons and architectural structures are everywhere. In every neighborhood there's a temple or shrine , places where one can go and, for a few coins and a clap of the hands, capture the ears of the gods and ask for favor. I don't really believe in gods nor do I believe in our ability to ask the spirits for favors. I would like to meet a god or a spirit one day as long as they are benevolent and not evil. Goodness knows the last thing I need in my life is an evil spirit causing mischief and mayhem. I think I'm well capable of doing that by myself. I've never counted but I wonder how many temples and shrines there are in total in this country. I also want to know the lists of the gods that live there. Actually, I think it's only the shrines that house gods not the temples. I'm not sure exactly, so if someone could tell me that would be great. Anyway…I love going to these places at night when there's no one there and I can admire the intricacy of the woodwork and the architecture. During the day there are so many people trying to get the attention of the gods that it's hard to really see the workmanship that went into building the place. The worst is on New Year's Day when crowds of people gathered in long lines that stretch around corners to try and offer their New Year’s adorations. I always skip that time even though doing so is a kind of cultural sacrilege in Japan. Instead, I typically spend New Year's Day floating on a hangover from the night before and thinking about the days ahead.