Friday, January 14, 2011



Unlike most Europeans and Americans, the Japanese do not celebrate their New Year's by waking up with a hangover. Or at least most of them don't. The reason for this is that they believe that everything should be perfect, just the way they would want it to be for the rest of the year. Therefore they spend their New Year's Eve and the first two or three days with their family, enjoying the presence of their closest in a very, very, very clean house. They enjoy together the first meal of the year, the first TV program of the year, the first hot bath (Ofuro) of the year, and also the first (and for many the last) visit to the Shinto shrine of the year. This first visit to the shrine is called Hatsumode, and in the following photo essay I will show you how it works. We actually went to two Hatsumode with my host family, at two different shrines on two different days, just for the effect. Featuring: myself and my host family.
The entrance to a typical shrine.

Before you enter the shrine, you must clean your hands to purify your body as well as your soul.

No visit to a Shrine can be conducted without proper manners, which includes payment to the gods. You throw them some money (the more you believe the more you throw), clap twice, pray, and clap again.

Throwing just any coins to the gods doesn't work as good as throwing them lucky coins. The lucky coins are 5 and 50 Yen coins because they have a hole in them. There is a 5 Yen lucky coin in the middle.

People actually wait in LONG lines to pay their respect to the gods.

Many people like to dress up in the fanciest kimono they own. Of course even your doggie must be dressed up well for the new year's!

Then you, for a mere ¥100, pay for a human form paper and write your name on it. Then you throw in in the jar and you will be lucky.

Just to make sure that you will actually be lucky, you can also buy an Omamori, or charm. For as little as¥300, you can become lucky at school, at work, in the kitchen, or in love (or all!).
At the end, you buy yourself for ¥200-500 a sheet which will tell you whether you really will be lucky in the next year. Of course if you are unhappy about the result, you are always welcome to buy another one, or to first buy more omamori and then buy another sheet. As you can see, religion in Japan is a really good deal.



Post a Comment