If you visit one of the famous shrines or temples of Japan during the New Year’s night, you will notice something very unusual for a westerner… Starting with more than an hour before the midnight, you will see very long queues forming right in front of the temple… A huge number of people, most of them young, in groups or couples, beautifully dressed, talking, laughing and… waiting.
Remember, this is the New Year’s night, a night of party! But starting with the first minute of the New Year, in Japan begins Hatsumōde 「初詣」, the year’s first visit to the shrine or temple. And on this occasion people are hurrying to pray for good fortune, health and safety to the new year.
The temples and shrines are extremely crowded during these days, the most famous of them being visited by millions of people during the first days of the year. Here’s a picture taken last year on January 5th at the most famous shrine in Kamakura, Tsurugaoka Hachiman-gu. Five days after the New Year, the crowd was still huge, slowly going towards the shrine, under the strict (but friendly) supervision of the red-dressed security guards…
Happy New Year!
Yesterday’s Japan Photo: