Happy New Year from Meiji Jingu shrine!

A traditional start to the new year is hatsumode (初詣), or first shrine visit. Around 12 million people visit the top five shrines around the country visit to pray for good luck throughout the coming year. It’s also not only for good luck. Many shrines specialise and people come to pray for everything from help in passing exams to having a baby. To keep the good luck with them throughout the year, omamori (お守り), or good luck charms, can be bought from the shrines. You’ll often see school children with them hanging from their bags. What is also little known is that after the exams, or whatever it was bought for, the omamori is supposed to be brought back to the same shrine and thanks given:


The most popular shrine in Japan for the new year visit is Meiji Jingu in Harajuku, Tokyo. In fact, 3 million people visit Meiji Jingu shrine alone in the first three days of the year. Sake barrels, donated by corporate sponsers, line the route to the main shrine:

Sake barrels

This is the main torii entrance to the shrine:


This year’s Chinese zodiac symbol is the snake (much to M’s horror as she hates snakes!) and you’ll see images of them everywhere this year:


Lantern on the front gate to the shrine:


This is the main hall of the shrine:


People lining up to pay their respects:


After praying at the shrine, many people buy a fortune paper to see what’s in store for the year:


Or buy a hamaya (破魔矢), literally ‘demon destroying arrow’, to keep you safe in 2013:



6 thoughts on “Happy New Year from Meiji Jingu shrine!

  1. Fantastic! I’d love to visit Meijijingu during New Year’s, but I have a bit of a thing about crowds.

    Ironically we both snapped a shot of the same lantern, too! Excellent!

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