Happy New Year！
We wish for great happiness in 2018, the year of the dog according to Chinese zodiac.
We do hope that 2018 has begun in a really good way for all of you.
“Hatsumode” the first visit to a shrine or a temple,
either grand or small is one of the most exciting and meaningful New Year’s traditions in Japan.
Meiji Shrine, one of the most famous shrines in Japan
boasts over three million worshippers during the first three days of New Year of 2017.
This act can be performed on any day throughout the year,
but hatsumode is considered to be a particularly important time to pray for good luck in the coming year.
People throw coin or bill into the offertory box.
No specific amount. Heart is important.
People clap their hands twice and then pray with their hands together silently.
Traditional luck charms (omamori) and fortune telling slips (omikuji) are available at a shrine or a temple.
If they want to secure a wish, people write their prayers on ema, a votive wooden plaque.
It is typically 15cm wide and 9cm high and costs from 500yen to 1000yen.
It is offered to a shrine or a temple whenever people feel they need a little help
from the deities for worldly benefits such as a swift recovery from illness,
a job promotion, and success in entrance exams.
Visiting a shrine or a temple is different from being religious.
Yet religious belief and rituals have long been an important part of Japanese people’s life.
The majority of Japanese are born Shinto, marry Christian, and die Buddhist.
Such Japan’s blend of religious practices might be hard to understand from a western point of view.
Many people of all ages in Japan seem to be seeking some sort of spiritual advice by visiting sacred places,
as exemplified in a huge number of ema with closely hand-written hopes, found in the precincts of a shrine or a temple.
Do you prefer having lessons at your own place at your own convenience?
NIC can dispatch Japanese teachers.