“Hatsumode” in Japanese culture is the first shrine visit of the year, to receive blessings in hopes of having your wishes answered throughout the year. Here is a small guide on how to carry out your “hatsumode”!
“Jinja” shrine visit during New Year’s
You may wonder why most Japanese seem to be committed to visit Jinja shrine on New Year’s Day. Some shrines are big and very crowded, while there are many small- to mid-sized ones that are relatively quiet with a smaller crowd. But no matter how big or small they are, there are things that they all have in common.
But what do you do there?
Well, there are several steps you might want to follow.
Let us guide you through the most common way to behave in Jinja shrine during New Year’s.
1: Rinse your hands and mouth (Please don’t gargle!)
Before making your wish in front of the bell at the main shrine, you should purify (or simply rinse) your hands and mouth. Look for a small fountain called “temizuya”.
You should see a ladle, which you should use following these steps: A) Hold it with your right hand and rinse your left hand. B) Then, hold it with your left hand and rinse your right hand. C) Hold it with your right hand again, and pour water in your cupped left palm and use it to rinse your mouth. Make sure you don’t sip water directly from the ladle. D) Rinse your left hand again. E) Gently wash the handle you were holding.
Preferably, you should do steps from A) to E) with one scoop of water. Well, it looks like a series of meticulous ceremonial actions, but it’s all about purifying yourself before making your wish to God. Besides, they all make sense in terms of hygiene…
2: Make a wish
Now you are in front of the main shrine.
Here are the traditional steps to pray.
A)Bow lightly once. B) Put an offering (typically ranging from ¥10 to ¥100 coin) into the “Saisen-box”, and then ring the bell. C) Bow twice deeply and then clap your hands twice and then make your wish. D) Bow again deeply but only once. E) Bow lightly once before you leave from the main shrine.
Go straight home.
It is believed that only if you go straight home, you won’t drop or lose your blessing. You can go to parties after you go home first, perhaps.
You are now ready for “hatsumode”!
Some shrines or temples might recommend that you bow and clap in different ways with different actions, but no worries. You don’t need to mind them much, as long as you are showing respect and gratitude towards the God of the shrine. In fact, you might notice that many Japanese don’t even know how to act properly in Jinja!
Hope you all have a blessed New Year in Japan!
Sony Nakagawa / Japan