Hatsumōde (First Shrine Visit)

New Year’s Day is a very important time for the Japanese. Most shops will be closed on New Year’s Day, and many people will have the day off.

On new year’s, many people will visit a shrine, to pay respect for the new year (this is called hatsumode – first shrine visit of the year)
While there, many people will also receive their fortune for the new year, buy new charms, and the larger shrines will also have food stalls & some playground games.
For the week after new years, many shops will have New Year’s sales. Many people come to these events, so many shops quickly become crowded.

For New Year’s, I went and visited the Dazaifu shrine with my friends. Dazaifu is one of the more popular shrines in Fukuoka, so many people were there paying their respects. Thankfully we went in the evening, so there weren`t as many people. (many people also arrive at midnight, even though they may have to wait in line for hours)

While there, we all received our fortune. I received great luck (daikichi), and after that, we ate takoyaki, yakisoba & squid.

In the days following the New Year’s, all the shops in town were congested, with many people there for the sales. We decided to return on the weekend, when it would be less full.

The New Year’s Day in Japan is one of the best New Year’s I’ve experienced, and I’d recommend people experience it as well.