Hatsumode

February 12, 2018

   Many Japanese people visit a Shinto shrine during the first three days of January in order to make traditional New Year’s wishes for their health and happiness. 

 

 

 This is called Hatsumode, and it is one’s first visit of the year to a shrine or temple. A large shrine like Meiji Jingu will have over a million visitors in the first few days of the year.

 

 

   Meiji Jingu is a Shinto shrine dedicated to the deified spirits of Emperor Meiji and his consort, Empress Shoken. After they passed away, people wished to commemorate their virtues and constructed this shrine in 1920 with state funds to venerate them forever. The shrine was destroyed by the 1945 air raids, but it was rebuilt in 1958 using private donations.

 

 

   The torii gates of Meiji Shrine are made of Taiwanese wood. The torii gates standing at the point where the southern and northern paths meet is one of the largest (but not the tallest) wooden torii gates in Japan. It is about 12 meters in height, with pillars having a diameter of 1.2 meters.

 (This is when we visited Meiji Jingu during P.A.L.2017)

 

   There are always omikujis (a fortune-telling paper) at shrines. Originally it is an oracle bearing a certain Chinese character corresponding to a good or bad fortune written on a slip of paper, however in Meiji Jingu, there are words from Emperor Meiji and Empress Shoken with an explanation.

 

 

   I also went to Hatsumode this year at Yakuo-in of Mount Takao and picked an omikuji. On the omikuji, good luck is represented by the kanji character reading, kichi. Bad luck is indicated by the kanji character reading, kyo. If the fortune is not favorable, the strip pf paper is often tied to a nearby tree to leave bad luck behind. I picked kyo unfortunately, so I tied it to a nearby tree.

 

 

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