Hatsumoude – A Japanese New Year Tradition

May 15, 2017

by Miyabi Saeki, Shiho Tojo, Sakina Nishitsuji

Hatsumode is a Japanese tradition of visiting a shrine or temple for the first time at the start of a new year. Hatsumode is a very important custom for Japanese people because it gives them a chance to pray for happiness in the upcoming year with their family members. People pray for the sake of their health, studies, pregnancies, traffic safety, love, and various other things. For this reason, many people go to the shrine on New Years Day, so it is always very crowded at that time. At larger, more popular shrines, vendors of different types also put up stands on the shrine grounds or even outside the shrine. The whole atmosphere is like that of a festival.

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History of Hatsumode

Originally hatsumode was called toshikomori, and was a time for people to stay in their houses from the night of December 31st to morning of January 1st. This custom was meant to give people happiness by giving them a chance to meet Toshikamisama, or the God of the New Year. Toshikomori changed to hatsumode about 100 years ago, during the middle of the Meiji period. Many years ago, there was little in the way of transportation, so people could not so easily get to a shrine. These days, however, trains run almost non-stop, so people can easily get to the shrine and pray for happiness.

Hatsumode Customs

There are three main customs related to hatsumode that all Japanese people carry out during their New Years visit to the shrine: washing hands, praying to the gods, and drawing a fortune slip.

Washing Hands

When praying for good fortune, people follow a number of steps in order. The very first things people do is wash their hands. This is important because they need to enter the shrine symbolically clean. Here is how to do it:

1. Grab the ladle with your right hand and scoop water out of the basin with it;
2. Use this water to rinse your left hand;
3. Repeat the above steps with the opposite hands;
4. Grasp the ladle with your right hand again and pour the water into your left hand to rinse the mouth;
5. Still holding the ladle in the right hand, scoop water to rinse the left hand again, leaving some water in the ladle;
6. Rinse the ladle using the excess water. To do this, tilt the ladle upwards until the water pours out from the scoop and over the shaft.

Praying to the Gods

After people wash their hands, they walk to the main hall. That is where the saisenbako is, a large wooden box. In front of the saisenbako is a large bell with a rope hanging from it. Everyone stands in front of the saisenbako. Then, they pray to the gods for good luck. The way to pray is as follows:

1. Grab the rope and ring the bell. This is to wake up the god of the shrine.
2. Toss a coin into the saisenbako. Five yen coins are commonly used for this.
3. Bow to the shrine twice.
4. Clap hands twice in front of the saisenbako.
5. Pray for wishes.
6. Bow once, and then walk away from the saisenbako.

Omikuji – The Fortune Slip

In addition to praying to the gods, visitors also draw a fortune slip, called omikuji. These can be purchased at the shrine, often for around one hundred yen. Each omikuji represents different levels of luck for the year: very good luck, good luck, OK luck, bad luck, extremely bad luck and so on. Omikuji also tells you your fortune in specific areas of your life, such as health, romance, money, and education. After reading the fortune, most people hold onto it.

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Famous Hatsumode Locales

There are many shrines for hatsumode in Kyoto. Each one has a unique series of gods and spirits representing different energies.

Kitano Tenmangu Shrine

Located in Kamigyouku, Kitano-Tenmangu shrine is famous for the god of studies. Therefore, many students go there to pray. However, not everyone prays for their studies; some people go there to pray for their good health or other purposes.

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Fushimi Inari Taisha Shrine

Fushimi Inari Taisha Shrine is one of the most famous shrines in Japan, and is in Fushimiku. This shrine is dedicated to the god of business, so if you are one of the many businesspeople visiting Japan, we recommend that you go there. Fushimi Inari Shrine has some famous structures. There are the hundreds of torii, or tall red gates, to walk through, each donated by a different Japanese business. The building made from hinoki, or Japanese cypress trees, is the main shrine and is an important cultural property. It was refurbished in 1499. Also, there is a tower gate painted in red, which was made by the contribution of Hideyoshi Toyotomi in 1589. Hideyoshi Toyotomi was a famous Japanese politician who helped to unify Japan during the Sengoku period.

There are two events at Fushimi Inari Shrine for New Year’s Holiday on December 31st and January 1st. December 31st is when the Oharae ceremony is held. It is an event that cleanses people of the sins they committed in the second half of the year, to try to enable them to spend the New Year without impurity. Next is the Saitan festival on January 1st. At the event, people pray for safety and prosperity from the god of Inari Shrine.

Heian-jingu Shrine

Heian Jingu is probably the most famous and iconic shrine of Kyoto. It is in Sakyouku. It was built to memorialize the peaceful removal of the Japan’s capital of 1100 years. Kyoto was laid wasted by war at end of Edo period. So this shrine was built by enthusiasm of Kyoto’s citizens. It is one of the main locations of the famous Jidai Matsuri, which is held in October each year. There is also a Japanese garden and a shrine garden around the main shrine. The total area of the gardens is about 30,000 square meters. Cherry blossoms and irises bloom there during certain times of the year.

Heian Jingu is dedicated to the emperors Kanmu and Koumei. Praying there is supposed to improve your fortune. During hatsumode, many people pray for business prosperity, good luck, sending away evil spirits, matchmaking, and the success in school. New Year’s ceremony is held on January 1st, at 6 o’clock.

Shimogamo Jinja Shrine

This shrine is one of the oldest shrines in Kyoto, and also in Sakyouku. It contains two shrines within: the East and West shrines. Each shrine has its own separate god, the two of them being husband and wife. Shimogamo Jinja is also known for its magnificent cherry blossoms, autumn leaves, and its fresh greenery. The famous Aoi Matsuri festival is held at Shimogamo Jinja each year on May 15th. At Hatsumode, many people come to pray at this shrine for good luck in marriage and having kids.

Conclusion

As you can see, there are many kinds of shrines in Kyoto. So before you go to Hatsumode, you should choose which shrine is suitable for you. From the last day of the year to the second day of January, Kyoto city buses and the subway remain in business during the night at no additional fee. You can go to Hatsumode as soon as the New Year begins, but at that time the shrines are always very crowded every year. If you don’t want to go when it is crowded, you should try going to a shrine from 3 a.m to 5 a.m., when there are fewer people.

Enjoy your New Year’s in Kyoto.

O Santuário xintoísta Kitano Tenmangu

O Santuário xintoísta Kitano Tenmangu fica em Kamigyo-ku, em Quioto. É um dos muitos santuários japoneses dedicados a Sugawara Michizane, um famoso político e poeta injustamente acusado e exilado pelos seus rivais políticos, há mais de  1000 anos atrás. Diz-se que, após o seu exílio, aconteceram desastres naturais que as pessoas pensaram ser uma maldição de Sugawara. Então, no ano de 947, decidiram erigir um santuário em sua homenagem, para apaziguar o seu espírito.

Como Sugawara Michizane era um poeta e erudito, o seu nome é muito associado à educação. Assim, muitos estudantes visitam este santuário em busca de sucesso nos seus estudos.

Sugawara Michizane gostava de ameixeiras e, por isso, aqui exsitem mais de 1500 ameixeiras que florescem por volta de fevereiro. O Santuário tem ainda um lugar para uma cerimónia do chá de cariz especial, conhecida por Baikasai. Esta cerimónia é praticada todos os anos, no dia 25 de fevereiro, e é acompanhada por maikos e geikos.

O Santuário Kitano Tenmangu também é famoso pelas suas cores outonais, entre novembro e dezembro. Algumas destas árvores de folhas vermelhas têm mais de 350 e 400 anos.

Finalmente, no dia 25 de cada mês, aqui se realiza uma feira de antiguidades, uma das mais famosas de Quioto.unnamed9

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Horário

05:00-18:00 (até às17:00 entre outubro e março) . A entrada é livre e gratuíta.

Acesso

Apanhar o autocarro /ônibus nº 101 ou nº 50 que sai na Estação de Kyoto. A viagem demora cerca de 40 minutos.

Mercado Taishogun

Mercado Taishogun – “Rua Yokai”

By Yusuke Kishino, Naoya Ito

 

 

Em Quioto, durante a Era Heian (794-1185), corria o boato de que monstros saíam à noite durante a “Procissão dos cem demónios” (em japonês “Hyakki Yagyō”). Estes demónios eram conhecidos como “yokai”, monstros sobrenaturais do folclore japonês que podiam apresentar inúmeras formas (desde animais, a pessoas e também objectos inanimados que tomam vida).

 

Hoje me dia, muitas pessoas vêm ao Mercado Taishogun, para verem representações destes “yokai”. Por isso, o Mercado Taishogun é conhecido como a “Rua Yokai”. Localizado na Avenida Ichijo, na parte norte de Quioto, fica perto do famoso santuário shintoísta Kitano-tenmangu.

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A “Rua Yokai” é muito popular, com estátuas dos famosos monstros que divertem as crianças que aqui se deslocam. Esta zona é também palco de vários eventos, junto das lojas. Entre estas lojas, existe uma padaria chamada “Meister”, que vende produtos alimentares alusivos a este tema.

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No dia 25 de cada mês, junto ao Santuário Kitano-tenmangu realiza-se uma feira da ladra (“flea market”), um dia muito animado onde se pode comprar as mais variadas coisas, desde produtos usados a mobília antiga. Uma visita a esta feira da ladra é certamente um dos bons eventos que Quioto oferece aos seus visitantes.

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Acesso

Tomar o autocarro / ônibus número 50 ou 101, na Estação de Quioto, e sair em Kitano Tenmangu-mae.

 

Endereço: 75, Okaminocho, Kamigyo-ku Kyoto-shi, KyotoIMG_3704

Hirano shrine

by Rina Hashiguchi

This article will describe Hirano shrine. This shrine is not so famous, but it has a long history and differs from any other shrine in some respects.

The Entrance to Hirano Shrine

The Entrance to Hirano Shrine

This shrine is dedicated to four gods: Imakinokami, a god of creating vitality and life force; Kudonokami, a god of  kitchen ranges; Furuakinokami, a god of exorcism; and Himenokami, a god of producing power.It was built in Nara in 782 to protect the Imperial Palace and the capital from evil, but it was moved toward Kyoto in 794 because of the relocation of the national capital. The court rank of this shrine is high, so a lot of nobles prayed at this shrine. Originally the site of this shrine was very large, and Kinkakuji Temple was also included on the site. However it became smaller and smaller with the change of times, and resulted in the present form.

View Points

One point is the cherry blossoms. In fact, this shrine is the most famous site of cherry blossoms which represents Kyoto. In the past, a lot of cherry trees weredonated to this shrine by some nobles in order to pray for the prosperity of their families. In addition, cherry blossoms were believed to be symbolic of enhancing people’s life force. At present there are 400 cherry blossoms in this shrine and every April, a festival of cherry blossoms is held. There are a lot of street stalls and cherry trees. Please try to go there. I’m sure that you can enjoy viewing the blossom.

Beitetsu (or Suehirogane)

Beitetsu (or Suehirogane)

Another point of interest is a big rock of magnetitie (an oxide of iron that has strong magnetic properties). This is the largest rock of magnetite in Japan and it has two names: Beitetsu and Suehirogane. It has a rounded shape due to river erosion and it has a strong magnetic force. The ancient people couldn’t understand why this stone attracts magnets, so they believed that it had a mysterious power and gods’ spirits dwelled in it. Tha’s why it is said that you get its energy if you touch this stone. “Suehirogane” is located in front of the tree which is about 400 years old. Please touch it and get its energy.

Omamori (personal amulets)

All amulets are designed in the motif of cherry blossoms. There are many kinds of amulets, so you will be able to find your favorite one. Now I will introduce you to a strange amulet. It is “Sazukarumamori” which is an amulet which has magnetic force. If you buy it, please touch to “Suehirogane”, and the amulet will get the power of “Suehirogane.” There are also omikuji, which are random fortunes written on strips of paper at Shinto shrines and Buddhist temples in Japan. One of them is dolls of a squirrel, because a squirrel is the messenger of Hirano shrine.

Amulets at Hirano Shrine

Finally

Were you able to learn a lot about Hirano shrine? I’m so glad if you are interested in this shrine. People who visit this shrine are very few because it is not so famous, so you will be able to refresh yourself. It is located near Kitano Tenmangu. Please go there and enjoy seeing!