January 4, 2007

Hatsumode, (初詣) first shrine visit for the new year 2007

For the new year at 1st January 2007, we went to one of the three most important shrines in Japan, Atsuta Jingu. It's called Hatsumode. Hatsumode (Japanese: 初詣, hatsumōde) is the first shrine visit of the New Year in Japan. Many people go during the first, second, or third day of the year as most are off work those days.

Long queue of Japanese

It's also a custom to offer some money to the temple after a prayer is made. Just take a look at the amount money collected during the first day of the new year.

After a prayer is made, most of the Japanese will purchase a good luck charm aka o-mamori (お守り). Generally, one makes wishes for the new year, gets new o-mamori, and returns old o-mamori to be burned. For the new year, Hamaya (破魔矢) is also very popular. Literally, "demon-breaking arrow," a decorative arrow sold at shrines at New Year's to ward off misfortune and to attract good luck. Hamaya are popular among New Year's visitors to shrines as one type of good-luck charm.

Here's a brief history of the famous Atsuta Jingu (熱田神宮).

Atsuta-jingu Shrine is located nearly in the center of Nagoya and is also called Atta-san or Miya and it is very popular amongst the locals. Atsuta-jingu Shrine is a historic shrine that is mentioned in Japan's oldest history book from the 7th century called "Kojiki" and has Kusanagi-no-Tsurugi, one of the three heirlooms "Sansyu-no-jingi" that had been owned by successive emperors and used as symbol for succession of the imperial throne.

The precincts of Jingu reach 20,000 square meters and are surrounded by a dense forest called Atsuta Forest and this forest gives the precincts a solemn atmosphere. The treasury inside Takayuka-shiki Bunka Den (a Building with very a high floor and low pillars at the corners), which was constructed in 1966, stores approximately 4,000 treasures. Also inside of the precincts, there are precious historic site such as the Nobunaga-Bei (a wall) dedicated by a 16th century's general called Oda Nobunaga, the Sakuma Tourou (a lantern) and the Nijugo-cho-bashi (a bridge).

This shrine holds more than seventy ceremonies yearly including traditional and interesting ones such as the Eyoudo ceremony where Shinto priests walk around laughing, which attract many visitors throughout the year.

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