Hatsumode refers a first visit to shrine or temple in the year. Many families have the custom of going to a New Year’s visit as soon as the year is over.
On New Year’s Eve, some people leave their homes and go to temples and shrines to wait for the beginning of the year. At midnight, people put the money in a box and make an offering in front of the Buddhist altar to pray for a safe and healthy New Year and buy good luck charms such as amulets and arrows. Some temples and shrines offer free festive drinks such as amazake and okamizake.
In the past, it was common to go to a small temple or shrine near your house for New Year’s visit, but nowadays it is common to go to a famous temple or shrine. After that, it became common to pay a visit to a famous place. As more and more people visited the same place, crowds became the norm on New Year’s Day.
In the first three days of one year, 97.95 million people visited the major shrines and temples, and the most popular temple recorded 3.11 million people.
In the midst of such heavy crowds, police officers work diligently to maintain safety and order. Japan is known as a safe country, and as a symbol of this, there are numerous police stations in cities, towns and villages across the country, working hard to maintain security and order in their communities.
In ancient times, the Japanese believed that all phenomena, animals and plants in the natural world had divine powers. This came to be called Shinto and was established as an official religion after Buddhism and Confucianism were introduced to Japan from the Asian continent. Buddhism was introduced to Japan from the Asian continent in ancient times. Its teachings were accepted by the rulers of the time and spread to the common people.
Shinto and Buddhism are both an important part of everyday life in Japan. For example, on New Year’s Eve, the sound of temple bells echoes through the air. Also, on New Year’s Day, people visit shrines and temples to pray for good luck for the year. On Setsubun (spring and autumnal equinoxes) and Obon (July and August), families hold a memorial service for their ancestors. Shinto rituals are also held throughout the year, such as carrying a portable shrine on one’s shoulders and parading around the town with floats in tow. It is common for weddings to be in the Shinto style and funerals to be in the Buddhist style. In addition, many households have a small shrine or Buddhist altar in their homes.
Christianity has taken root in Japan since the 16th century, when Spanish Jesuit missionary Francisco de Xavier introduced Christianity to Japan. In the Edo period, Japan’s feudal rulers banned Christianity, but it was revived in the Meiji era. Today, Shintoism has the largest number of followers, followed by Buddhism and Christianity.