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Hatsumōde at Narita-san Temple [ja] in Inuyama, Aichi

Hatsumōde (初詣, hatsumōde) is one of the major Japanese traditions of the new year, which is the first visit to a Buddhist temple or Shinto shrine visit of the Japanese New Year.[1] Typically taking place on the first, second, or third day of the year, it’s meant to bring a fresh start to the year. The kanji for hatsumōde is made up of two kanji: one for “first” and a Chinese kanji that has been adapted to mean “visiting a shrine or temple.”.[2]

Many visit on the first, second, or third day of the year. Generally, wishes for the new year are made, new omamori (charms or amulets) are bought, and the old ones are returned to the shrine so they can be cremated.One can often find long ques at major shrines throughout Japan.

Most people in Japan outside of the retail and emergency service professions are off work from December 29 until January 3 of every year. It is during this time that the house is cleaned, debts are paid, friends and family are visited and gifts are exchanged. It is customary to spend the early morning of New Year's Day in domestic worship, followed by consumption of sake (toso) and special celebration food (e.g. osechi, zōni).

Some shrines and temples have millions of visitors over the three days. Sensoji temple in Tokyo is the most popular one. Meiji Shrine for example had 3.45 million visitors in 1998, and in the first three days of January 2010, 3.2 million people visited Meiji Jingū, 2.98 million Narita-san, 2.96 million Kawasaki Daishi, 2.7 million Fushimi Inari-taisha, and 2.6 million Sumiyoshi Taisha.[3][4] Other popular destinations include Atsuta Jingū, Tsurugaoka Hachimangū, Dazaifu Tenman-gū, and Hikawa Shrine.[5]

A common custom during hatsumōde is to buy a written oracle called omikuji. If the omikuji predicts bad luck purchasers can tie it to a tree on the shrine grounds, in the hope that its prediction will not come true. The omikuji goes into detail, and offers predictions relating to various areas of life, such as business and love, for that year, in a similar way to horoscopes in the West. Often a good-luck charm comes with the omikuji when purchased.[citation needed]

Shrines make much of their money in the first week or two of the year.


Ninenmairi (二年参り) is a style of Hatsumode. It is called a "two year visit" not because it takes place over two years but rather the event starts on New Year's Eve and ends on New Year's Day, thus happening over two years.[6][7] People frequently write wishes for the year on Ema[8] and Toshikoshi-soba is eaten an hour before midnight[9]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "初詣はいつまでにいけばいい? 正しい作法と開運のポイント". テレ東プラス (in Japanese). TV Tokyo Corporation. 1 January 2020. Archived from the original on 1 January 2020. Retrieved 18 June 2020. 本来は氏神様や菩提寺に新年のご挨拶にいくこと (Translation: Originally it is to give New Year's greetings to one's ancestral shrine or temple)
  2. ^ "Kanji: Hatsumode" (PDF). Embassy of Japan to U.S. 10 July 2024.
  3. ^ "Japan's Society Celebrations - Hatsumōde". AsianInfo.org. Archived from the original on October 7, 2008. Retrieved December 29, 2008.
  4. ^ "'Tis the season for shrines and temples to rake it in". The Japan Times. 3 January 2011. Retrieved 9 May 2011.
  5. ^ "Encyclopedia of Shinto - Hatsumōde". Kokugakuin University. 24 February 2007. Archived from the original on 29 December 2010. Retrieved 9 May 2011.
  6. ^ "Meaning of 二年参り, にねんまいり, ninenmairi | Japanese Dictionary | JLearn.net". jlearn.net. Retrieved 2023-04-25.
  7. ^ "December | MustLoveJapan Video Travel Guide". www.mustlovejapan.com. Retrieved 2023-04-25.
  8. ^ "English | 弥彦観光協会公式サイト/やひ恋". www.e-yahiko.com. Retrieved 2023-04-25.
  9. ^ "The Runner | A beginner's guide to December holidays and events other than Christmas". runnermag.ca. 2021-12-17. Retrieved 2023-04-25.