Hatsumode – Our hearts are drawn to shrines and temples around the New Year

  • 2022/12/1
  • Hatsumode – Our hearts are drawn to shrines and temples around the New Year はコメントを受け付けていません


Our hearts are drawn to shrines and temples around the New Year

The manner Japanese people celebrate the end of the year and the start of the new year has changed considerably in recent years. They unwind with family members at home, go to hot springs or other countries, count down the days at Tokyo Disneyland, or ring in the New Year to music at a musical venue. On New Year’s Day, however, the majority of Japanese people always go to shrines and temples, regardless of where they spend their time or who they are with. This is because, despite advancements in technology and the emergence of new subcultures, it remains the most significant New Year’s tradition in Japan.

What is Hatsumode
Hatsumode is a New Year’s pilgrimage to shrines and temples during which people offer prayers for the well-being of their families, good health, harmony, and scholastic achievement. Since the Heian era, the Japanese have observed this New Year tradition (794-1185 AD). Even individuals without a particular religious conviction can participate in this “event” without worrying too much about tradition or rigid rules in contemporary Japan.

Shrines or Temples?
It is up to each individual’s personal beliefs or where they choose to go, however, Hatsumode is performed at both shrines and temples. No matter where you go to pray, there are no issues. Some people go to well-known shrines and temples around the country, while others go to small or regional shrines and temples. Except for a few religious individuals, the fact that shrines are dedicated to Kami (Deity) and temples are dedicated to Hotoke (Buddha) may not matter greatly to most Japanese.

When is the most ideal time to visit Hatsumode?
The “Matsu-no-Uchi” period is when most people go to shrines, even though there are several ideas about when Hatsumode occurs.

In the Kanto region(the region includes the Greater Tokyo Area), “Matsu-no-Uchi” is the period from January 1st to January 7th, Only during this time of New Year’s is the entrance exclusively decked with “Kadomatsu” and “Shimekazari” to symbolize the invite gods to your residence.

This causes some to advocate for making Hatsumode as early as feasible in the “Matsu-no-Uchi” season, while others argue that simply visiting shrines in January will do. From the stroke of midnight on January 1st to the 3rd is the most popular Hatsumode peak.

From midnight on December 31, a large crowd gathers in shrines and temples in anticipation of the arrival of midnight on January 1st, the New Year. When the New Year comes, it’s time to start worshipping. When visiting well-known shrines and temples, you might have to endure what seems like an endless wait outside in the cold. A survey indicates that over 3 million people visit Meiji Shrine in Tokyo over New Year’s three days, followed by approximately 2.7 million people visiting Fushimi Inari Taisha in Kyoto.

If you have plans to travel or stay in Japan around this time of year, why not take advantage of the chance to visit a shrine or temple when doing so is considerably easier than it was a few years ago? The future year should undoubtedly be excellent for you.

What are the proper etiquette rules in Hatsumode?

The manners and etiquette for Hatsumode differ across shrines and temples since one enshrines Kami (Deity) while the other enshrines Hotoke (Buddha). Although it’s best to enjoy each as you choose, observing proper manners can help you to appreciate Hatsumode more.

■ It is stated that a shrine’s Torii gate acts as a barrier between the general public world and the shrine. Bow before entering the gate.
■ Respect for the Kami is demonstrated by avoiding the approach’s center.

How to carry out the Chozu (self-purification ritual).

  1. Start with a slight bow.
  2. Scoop water while holding the Hishaku’s (ladle’s) handle in your right hand.
  3. Wash your left hand first, then swap to your left hand and wash your right hand.
  4. Holding the handle in your right hand once more, add water to your left hand, and rinse your mouth with the water. Do not put your mouth on the ladle.
  5. Wash the left hand once more, carefully lift the ladle with both hands, allow the water to trickle down the handle, and then place the ladle back where it was.
  6. With a handkerchief, clean your mouth and hands. Then, make a slight bow to complete Chozu.

■ Avoid the approach’s center as you draw near the shrine, then move toward the front.
■ Place your offering in the box as you stand in front of the offering box to demonstrate your commitment to the deity.
■ Worship in the form of “Ni-hai Ni-hakushu Ichi-hai (bow twice, clap twice, bow once more)” then slight bow before turning around.

What is “Ni-hai Ni-hakushu Ichi-hai”?

  1. Make two deep bows in a row. [Ni-hai].
  2. Next, place your hands together at chest level, pull your right hand slightly toward your body, then open your hands to about shoulder-width apart, and clap twice. [Ni-Hakushu]
  3. Put your hands down and make a final, deep bow. [Ichi-hai]

■ In Buddhist temples, the Sanmon (front gate) is the gateway to Buddha Hall, the realm of enlightenment. Bow before entering. When there are two statues of Niou opposite the gate, join hands with them both. Unlike shrines, you are free to walk through any part of the temple’s approach.
■ After entering the temple, you will come across a Chozuya (booth where you can clean your hands and mouth). The order of hand washing should be left, right, and mouth. In essence, it is similar to how one ought to conduct oneself at a shrine.
■ You can cleanse your body and mind by basking in the smoke of an incense burner if one is nearby. It has long been believed that applying smoke to an unhealthy area of your body helps heal it.
■ Facing the principal image, place your money offering in the box. At temples, Saisen is a form of “Shugyo” (authentic training) that is supposed to be used to train one to give up greed and attachment.
■ We serenely join hands and offer prayers. Ring the bell three times, if there is one. After praying, the principal image’s name is repeated with the prefix “Namu” before the name, for example, “Namu Amidabutsu.” Then make a deep bow while joining your hands.


Chozu and Hishaku.

TOKYO JINJACHO: http://www.tokyo-jinjacho.or.jp/sanpai/
TELLMETHE TEMPLE’S & SHRINE: https://www.oshiete-oterasan.com/

Did you know? Even in Malaysia, you can practice Hatsumode!

Good news for people who are traveling through the area for vacation or who will be unable to return to Japan over the holidays and New Year’s! In Malaysia, Hatsumode is also feasible. Izumo Oyashiro Malaysia Kosha was founded in March 2010 as a spiritual hometown for many Japanese residents of the area. Please avoid busy days and hours for your New Year’s visit.

Opening hours for the New Year (Reiwa 5 – Rabbit year) Pilgrimage
Period: January 1st, 2023 to 3rd, 6am – 8pm, 10am-6pm after January 4th
■ Izumo Oyashiro Malaysia Kosha is located in the Saujana Villa Condominium. Please use the visitors-only gate to access the guardhouse at the entry and identify yourself to the guard.
■ The appointment for Yakuyoke-Gokito (a prayer for misfortune protection) begins on January 4th. Please remember to set up an appointment in advance.

Izumo Oyashiro Malaysia
No. 5-00-4, Saujana Villa, Saujana Resort, Seksyen U2, 40150 Shah Alam, Selangor, Malaysia
Tel: 013–383-0881
E-mail: joho@izumo-malaysia.com