Hatsumode:First Shrine Visit of the Year

New Years is the most celebrated holiday in Japan. Shigoto osame, the last wokday ofmthe year usually falls between December 27 and 29. From then new years holiday is celebrated until the end of the first week in January. 

 During this time, a big Japanese tradition is to go to a local shrine to pray, this is custom is known as 初詣 “Hatsumode.”

What Happens at Hatsumode?

Shrines all over Japan are jampacked wih visitors some dressed in beautiful kimonos. The atmostphere is very festive, many shrines have food stalls, and serve warm sake and sweet sake beverages.

Visitors ring pray and perfom two very important tasks: purchasing one or more good luck  charms (omamori) for the year (old ones are taken back to the shrine so they can be burned) and drawing their luck card (omikuji) for the upcoming year. Omikuji are fortunes that are printed on small pieces of paper and range from bad to very good fortune. 

Visitors randomly choose their omikuji by drawing a stick with a number from inside a box. Your fortune depends on the luck of your draw. If the fortune is not so good shrine visitors do not take it home with them, instead they tie the paper it on one of several trees on the grounds of the shrine.


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