New Year in Japan 3 – Hatsumode


Very strangely, and typically Japanese at the same time, many Japanese go to a Shinto Shrine on New Year’s day, a few hours (or sometimes minutes) lator from visiting a Temple.? Though Shinto and Buddhism is a different religion, well, few Japanese mind that.

Visiting the Shinto Shrine on New Year’s Day is called Hatsumode (???荅?).? This means ‘visiting the Shinto Shrine (荅?) for the first time (???)’.
Until the 19th century, it was normal to visit the local Shinto Shrine which proteced the family, called Ujigami (羂霛?), but nowadays it is normal to visit a famous, powerful Shinto Shrine.? Some Shinto Shrines, for example Meiji Jingu, have millions of visitors over the three days.
During Hatsumode, it is common to wear Kimono, and buy a written oracle called Omikuji (?????帥?????).? If your Omikuji predicts bad luck (???), you can tie it onto a tree on the shrine grounds, in the hope that its prediction will not come true.? Omikuji goes into detail, and tells you how you will do in various areas in your life, such and business and love, for that year.


People will also often buy an amulet called Omamori (???絎????).? There are various kinds of them, which gives you good luck in studying, health, love, etc.
Another custom is to make a wish on a wooden plaque, called Ema (腟級Μ).? Ema are hanged up at the Shrine, where the spirits or gods receive them.? They have various pictures, often of animals on it.? In ancient times people would donate horses to the shrines for good favor, over time this was transferred to a wooden plaque with a picture (腟?) of a horse (薤?).

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