Matsumotos Corner Vol.11


Renewing wishes and vows for the New Year with gratitude for the past year

A visit to a shrine or Buddhist temple at the beginning of the year is called hatsumode. You’d think most Japanese people are not religious. Maybe thats true. But not at this time of year. In 2009, a data says almost 100 million people went for hatsumode between 1-3 January. Even if you don’t believe this figure, it’s no wonder with my feeling more than half of the 120 million Japanese population go for hatsumode. Some of the most popular shrines and temples are visited by over 3 million people at this time of year.

After prayer, you can write your wishes on a wooden board called ema and dedicate it to the gods, or receive a good luck amulet. Many people also draw an omikuji (fortune slip). A small piece of paper is used to divine the fortune of the person who draws it, with advice on how to improve one’s fortune.
You can take your omikuji home with you, or you can tie it up in a designated place. It seems to be meant to connect you with God.

The number of hatsumode visitors will be dispersed in 2021 due to Covid-19, but as it’s a difficult time, there may be more people making wishes.