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Useful information for traveling and living in Japan.

Hatsumode (the practice of visiting a shrine or a temple during the New Year)

December 28, 2015

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So many people visit a shrine or temple for Hatsumode

Hatsumode is the practice of visiting a shrine or temple at the beginning of the New Year in Japan. In total number, three in four Japanese people visit shrines or temples for Hatsumode every year.
Rules of Hatsumode are not strict and you can visit any shrine or Buddhist temple for Hatsumode. Strictly speaking the visit during the first three days of the New Year is called Hatsumode but many people visit a shrine or temple on a day other than the first three days because shrines and temples are so crowded with visitors in the period. So the visit in the beginning of January is considered as Hatsumode.

The way to worship at shrines and temples are approximately the same in the following.
Clean hands and rinse mouth at a Chozusha (building for cleaning hands and rinsing mouth).
Throw money into an offertory box.
Worship a god (at a shrine) or Buddha (at a temple).

But there is a difference between shrines and temples.
A basic manner of prayer at a shrine is ‘Twice bowing, twice clapping and one-time bowing’. On the other hand, that at a temple is ‘putting their palms together’.


Chozusha (building for cleaning hands and rinsing mouth)


A prayer at a temple

In Tokyo Metropolitan Area, there are some shrines and temples, which receive many visitors for Hatsumode. I would like to introduce them below.
They are always venerated by many people.

Meiji Jingu Shrine



The Meiji Jingu Shrine is located in the heart of Tokyo, near Shibuya and Shinjuku.
It is a great forest (about 700,000 square meters), so you can feel comfortable.
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Naritasan Shinshoji Temple



Naritasan Shinshoji Temple is a Buddhist temple in Narita city, Chiba prefecture. Its principal image is Fudo Myoo (Acala, the God of Fire, one of the Five Wisdom Kings). It is famous for Gomadaki (the Buddhist rite of burning wood sticks).

Kawasaki Daishi Heikenji Temple



Kawasaki Daishi Heikenji Temple is a Buddhist temple in Kawasaki city, Kanagawa prefecture. As one of the three grandest head temple of the Chizan school of the Shingon sect in Kanto region, the temple is revered by many people.
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Kinryuzan Sensoji Temple



As you know, Kinryuzan Sensoji Temple is one of the most world-famous temples in Japan. The temple is a Buddhist temple located in Asakusa, Tokyo prefecture and a must-see place for tourists.
It is the oldest temple in Tokyo, which is said to be established in 628 according to shrine legend.
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Tsurugaoka Hachimangu Shrine



Tsurugaoka Hachimangu Shrine serves as the center of Kamakura, Kanagawa prefecture where the Bakufu (Shogunate government) was once based and there remain a lot of shrines and temples.
The shrine is a popular sightseeing spot and many people visit there.
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Hikawa Shrine



Hikawa Shrine is located in Omiya, Saitama prefecture. It is an important historic shrine, which is said to be established in 5th century BC according to shrine legend.
As Ichinomiya (primary shrine) of Musashi Province (present-day Tokyo prefecture and part of Saitama and Kanagawa prefectures), Hikawa Shrine is venerated by many people.
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