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What Is The New Year's Tradition Hatsumode? Let's Find Out!

02 January 2018 by Nic

After a holiday filled with Japanese candy, amazing cakes, and some traditional osechi, many Japanese people make their first shrine visit of the year during a tradition called Hatsumode. While some people may know about visiting shrines, many people are unaware of what is actually done at the shrine. We want to help teach about that today, so let's check out what is done below!

So, as we stated briefly above, hatsumode is a time where people make their first temple visit of the year. Many people visit their local shrines if that is what is easiest for them, but many people also make long journeys to popular temples and shrines, like Meiji Jingu Shrine in Shibuya. Families get in their car or on the local train, with Japanese snacks in hand of course, and prepare for this yearly journey. Many people often wear kimonos as well for this special trip!

Once at the shrine, many people first flock to the fortune telling papers, called omukuji, to see what the year has in store for them. Generally, you pay about 100 yen (slightly less than $1.00) and you receive a paper with your fortune. There are various levels of luck, from Great Fortune to Worst Fortune, and many aspects of one's life is examined. You can learn about your love life, work life, human relationships, if traveling is recommended or not, or even if you should eat less (or more) of tasty Japanese candies! If you get a bad fortune that you want to leave behind, you can tie them to a designated tree or string at the temple!

In addition to the omukuji, many people often buy a omamori charm. Omamori charms are bought at the beginning of the year for various reasons. For example, one can protect you from traffic accidents, can bring more money into your life, or promise a safe year overall. Those who bought one the prior year will bring their old omamori to the shrine and burn them, then purchase new ones for a fresh start. It is always comforting knowing that you will have a year-long blessing that is there to protect you!

In addition to the fun activities above, many people also donate a small amount of money to the shrine and pray to the Gods for their good fortune and protection. As you can see, many of the activities done during hatsumode are to ensure yourself and your family good fortune and protection throughout the new year. There are plenty of omamori DIY sites online, so you should try to make one for yourself this year!

We hope you learned a little bit of Japanese culture today! We send you our best wishes and pray that your new year brings you great fortune!

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