Hatsumode; New Year’s visit to a shrine

By Yoshi, January 2, 2011

Happy New Year!
Hope this year is going to be a great year for you!

In Japan, we have a custom called “Hatsumode” (はつもうで, 初詣).
“Hatsumode” means New Year’s visits to shrines (recently visiting temples also is ok) and many people visit shrines to pray for happiness and a healthy year.

Meiji Shrine in Tokyo, Japan’s most popular “hatsumode” spot, is likely to attract around 3.1 million worshippers on the first three days of the new year.


Usually (except new year holidays) we can see a gate and buildings like the following picture.

But we have to wait in a looooong queue on the first three days of the new year….

I really hate to wait in such a long queue, so I’ll explain things to do for “New Year’s visit to a shrine” at an other temple that is close to my house ;)

1. Return charms we bought last year to a shrine/temple.
There is a box or a fire to return them. We buy new charms every year, and return charms we bought last year at New Year’s visit to a shrine.

2. Wash your hands and mouth at the water basin.
We need to cleanse us before praying.

3. Put smoke to your body
It’s said that the smoke makes your body better. If we put the smoke to our head, we will be smart. If put it to our stomach, we will get healthy.

Ok! ready to pray!

4. Stand before the altar.
1) throw some coins into a box.
2) If there is a bell with a rope hanging down above the money offering box, ring it.
3) Straighten out your posture and bow twice.
4) Put your hands together in front of your chest and clap twice. (at shrine only)
5) Pray with your hands together in front of your chest.
6) Bow once more.



After if we want,
5.Buy new charms and draw a Japanese paper fortune called “Omikuji” to try your luck.
(Please check “Try your luck” article for how to draw “Omikuji”.)


Visiting shrines/temples during Happy New year holidays is good to know the Japanese culture :)