It’s a New Year all-around the world, and people are celebrating a new start in their own traditional ways. In Japan, one of the popular New Year traditions is “Hatsumode”, which is the first shrine visit of the New Year.
People flock to their favorite Shinto shrine, such as Meiji Jingu or Asakusa in Tokyo or Fushimi Inari Taisha in Kyoto, on January 1st, and they pray that the New Year is another good one. Of course, if you can’t make it to the jinja on January 1st, because your too busy or the shrine is too busy, then you can try visiting during any of the other days that first week. Don’t worry, this is totally allowed!
Each shrine or temple brings luck or prosperity in a different area, such as some temples bring good luck in love or money, so make sure you are going to the right one for what you want!
During this tradition, both men and women will wear their kimono, so it is the perfect time to see some very beautiful kimono designs. It is also a fun time to live out all of your “otaku” dreams, because now you have a reason to wear that kimono you have in the closet.
And there are plenty of fun things to do during Hatsumode, as the temples and shrines prepare for the New Year festivities by having food stalls, such as the Choco-Banana stall I got the above chocolate-covered banana from. And if you aren’t a big snack-food eater—I’m not sure if that type of person exists, haha—then try your luck with the “omikuji” or “fortune paper”. Do your best to get the “Daikichi” one, which is the best blessing you can get!
So if you haven’t headed to your closest temple and shrine, don’t worry, you still have time! So we hope everyone has a great New Year, and we hope you spend some of your time with us!