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Posts tagged shogatsu

7 years ago today…


The Imperial Family (皇室) on January 2, 2010

Prince Naruhito, the Crown Prince of Japan (皇太子徳仁親王), is on the far left. Emperor Akihito is next to him, and Empress Michiko is on the emperor’s left. Prince Akishino (秋篠宮文仁親王) is on the right.

Yasukuni Hatsumode

hatsumode yasukuni jinja tokyo 2010

Year of the Tiger (2010)

Hatsumode (初詣) is the first shrine visit of the New Year in Japan. Today’s photo comes from January of 2010 when it was the Year of the Tiger. 2016 is the Year of the Monkey.

Tokyo temples on New Year’s Eve

Ryochoin 亮朝院 on new year's eve

Ryochoin (亮朝院) on New Year’s Eve

Most temples and shrines in Japan will have some sort of relatively low-key event planned for this evening. Unlike summer festivals, New Year’s Eve in Japan is usually celebrated by watching TV at home (maybe in part due to the temperature outside). However, most people will head out for Hatsumode (初詣) tomorrow or soon thereafter rather than participate in the ritual just after the stroke of midnight.

Today’s photo comes from the afternoon of New Year’s Eve 2009. We didn’t stick around our neighborhood Ryochoin to see what happened there. Instead, we went to the balloon release on the other side of Tokyo, an event that no longer happens. Ryochoin is decorated in New Year’s garb in today’s photo. For what it normally looks like, click here.

New Year’s Eve (and New Year’s Day) in Japan

tokyo new years celebration what to do in tokyo for the new year

Meiji Jingu on New Year’s Day – Tokyo, Japan

Zojoji has cancelled their annual, balloon release at midnight on New Year’s eve this year. If you are in or near Tokyo and looking for a crowd to celebrate with you can still head over to Meiji Jingu although there is no countdown there. There are loads of shrines and temples you can visit to hear the 108 bells rung at midnight or otherwise participate in Hatsumode.

Hatsumode (初詣)


Giant torii gate entrance at Toshogu Shrine in Nikko, Japan

The first visit to a shrine after the new year is called hatsumode. The shrines are packed for the first few days of a new year. I haven’t done hatsumode in Nikko, but I’m guessing it is pretty crowded. I have done hatsumode at Meiji Jingu twice and both times it was teeming with people.

Emperor’s New Year Greeting

new year greeting by emperor of japan

Queue to see the emperor of Japan

If you are in Tokyo tomorrow (January 2), you can see the emperor. The Imperial Household will make five appearances. Here is the schedule. Expect a ton of people so get there early.

The sign in this photo (from when I went in 2010) says, “please proceed slowly.”