日本での一年間

January 20, 2009

初詣(Hatsumoude) – The First Temple Visit of the Year

Filed under: Events, Tokyo places, Yamanote-Sen — myyearinjapan @ 1:26 am

In Japan, the New Year tradition is the first visit to a shrine or temple of the year, called hatsumoude, which means first visit. On every other day of the year, the trains stop running at midnight, but on New Years Eve, the lines in Tokyo keep running all night. People start flocking to shrines and temples as soon as the clock strikes midnight and continue all night and all day the following day, but it actually doesn’t matter when you go. A friend of mine finally made her first temple visit 2 days ago.

I made my first temple visit on New Years Eve, arriving at Meiji Jingu, a shrine in between 2 trendy Tokyo districts, at around 3:30 in the morning. Apparently, that was a lull in the crowds because we were able to walk right up to the shrine, even though a friend who had gone a little earlier had told us he was stopped every few meters and made to wait for the crowds ahead to thin down.

(By the way, the difference between shrines and temples is that shrines are Shinto and temples are Buddhist)

These pictures are somewhat hard to see due to the minimal lighting at 3:30 in the morning. So, apologies for that.

Even though Japan celebrates the New Year of the Georgian Calendar, they also use the Chinese zodiac. 2009 will be the Year of the Ox, so some people came to the Shrine dressed as cows to celebrate

Even though Japan celebrates the New Year of the Georgian Calendar, they also use the Chinese zodiac. 2009 will be the Year of the Ox, so some people came to the Shrine dressed as cows to celebrate. I'm not sure why Winnie the Pooh is there as well...

The first gate. The only reason I was able to take pictures at all was because of the many bright lights set up at the Shrine.

The first gate. The only reason I was able to take pictures at all was because of the many bright lights set up at the Shrine.

Close-up of that gate

Close-up of that gate

Lanterns. Many of them had company names. At this point, there was also a giant TV scren balrring commercials, which clashed a great deal with my expectations

Lanterns. Many of them had company names. At this point, there was also a giant TV screen blaring commercials, which clashed a great deal with my expectations

Hand washing before going into the Shrine. At this point, the commercials were gone and it had gotten much quieter

Hand washing before going into the Shrine. At this point, the commercials were gone and it had gotten much quieter

Inner gate to the Shrine. Our walk to the center is almost done.

Inner gate to the Shrine. Our walk to the center is almost done.

Finally at the Shrine!

Finally at the Shrine!

Lucky papers are left behind by visitors, tied to these strings.

Lucky papers are left behind by visitors, tied to these strings.

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2 Comments »

  1. Wow, almost doesn’t look like Meiji Jingu, what with all the commercial nonsense and stuff set up!

    Comment by reccaphoenix — January 20, 2009 @ 2:26 am

  2. I know! So ridiculous!

    Comment by myyearinjapan — January 20, 2009 @ 5:54 am


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