Hatsumode 2024

Hatsumode 2024

Hatsumode is the first shrine or temple visit mainly during the first three days of the new year. People give thanks for the previous year and ask for good fortune for the new year. It is my first time to celebrate new year in Japan so I decided to follow the tradition and experience the culture with my family.

In the morning of 1 January 2024, we went to Susanoo Shrine in Arakawa Ward which was near my home. There was already a lot of people queuing and we waited for about half an hour to go in. I can’t imagine how long I need to wait if I go to famous Meiji Shrine or Sensoji Temple.

We follow the proper manner during the visit. First, to pay respect to the guardian deities, we bowed before entering the torii gate and then we cleaned our hands and mouths in the water basin called chouzuya to purify our body and soul.

In the main shrine hall, we made monetary offering of five yen coins as in Japanese, "go en" means "good luck". However, there is no restriction on the amount of offering. Then, we rang the bell once and practised the "Nihai-nihakushu-ichihai" prayer ritual. We bowed twice, clapped twice, pray with eyes closed and then bowed one more time.

One of the exciting moment was to buy omikuji, which was fortunes written on strips of paper. After putting 200 yen, I randomly choose one omikuji in the box. I was very worried that it would be bad luck and fortunately it predicted "small blessing". The paper explained in detail regarding different aspects of life for the new year and a charm was attached too. Lately I realised that even if a bad luck omikuji was chosen, you can simply tie it onto a tree in the shrine so that the prediction will not come out.

It is special and localized to this shrine that lion dance and traditional instrument performance were available. I enjoyed the atmosphere and worshipping there and I also had some yakitori and snacks in the end to finish the hatsumode.

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