The new year 2021 is coming. Unfortunately, because of the COVID-19 pandemic, many people living in Japan will not be enabled to travel overseas or back home. For the lonely foreigners in Japan at the moment, if you do not want to attend a large countdown crowd to protect yourself, you can try out this Japanese new year traditional activity hatsumode, which is known as the first temple visit of the year.
Top 5 Temples and Shrines for Hatsumode
The Guidable team has collected a list of five renowned shrines & temples – all locations easily reachable from Tokyo and very famous amongst young people and foreigners.
To stop the spread of Covid-19, we would like to remind everyone to take all possible precautions when going outdoors and to avoid days when the shrines & temples are crowded with people.
Access hours or activities can be adjusted depending on the situation, postponed, or canceled without notice beforehand. Before you head out, always check the shrines & temples’ official website for the latest updates.
Zojo-ji (増上寺) – Hatsumode With The Spectacular View of Tokyo Tower
This temple is renowned as the Tokugawa dynasty’s family temple, who were the rulers of the Edo Shogunate (1600 – 1868). It is a short 3-minute walk from Shibakoen Station on the Toei Lines and a 10-minute walk from Hamamatsucho Station on the JR Lines.
The first thing tourists are likely to find when they walk into its premises is the huge Sangedatsumon Gate, the largest one in eastern Japan. It has been classified as a National Important Cultural Property, a testimony to its cultural importance. When you walk further into its premises, it’s impossible not to notice the Tokyo Tower’s distinctive silhouette just behind the main building.
– Information to prevent the spread of Covid-19: Visitors for the New Year’s Eve Bell event restricted / Visitors to main building restricted / All staff are required to put on masks / Mask wearing is enforced on all visitors / All people on-site are required to follow coughing etiquette
– Open hours: All night on December 31st – 5:30 p.m. on January 1st; 6:00 a.m. – 5:30 p.m. after January 2nd
– Hatsumode event: New Year’s Eve Bell ringing on December 31st, the first prayer of the new year (the monk starts the prayer after the bell tolls at midnight on new year’s day)
Senso-ji is a famous tourist destination in Tokyo’s Asakusa district and attracts millions of visitors, even on average days. The temple takes a short 5-minute walk from Asakusa Station on the Tobu and Tokyo Metro lines.
During the New Year’s Season, Senso-ji will be filled to the brim with even more tourists than expected, all wanting to perform their hatsumode prayers in this well-known temple to get an excellent start to their new year.
Our recommendation to avoid crowds is to choose your celebration time flexibly and maybe visiting on a different date.
– Information to prevent the spread of Covid-19: The main hall interior use is by reservation only / All staff are required to put on masks / Mask wearing is enforced on all visitors / All people on-site are required to follow coughing etiquette
– Open hours: All night on December 31st – 5:00 p.m. on January 1st; 6:30 a.m. – 5:00 p.m. after January 2nd *Subject to change without notice depending on the Covid-19 situation
– Hatsumode event: New Year’s Eve Bell ringing on December 31st, the first prayer of the new year
Meiji Jingu (明治神宮) – The Most Popular Hatsumode Shrine in Japan
Meiji Jingu is the destination where Emperor Meiji (1852 – 1912) and Empress Shoken (1849 – 1914) have been enshrined. This renowned Shinto shrine is a historic building that exudes a calm and solemn dignity. This is also a spot that attracts more than 3 million visitors from all over Japan every new year.
Located in Harajuku and Omotesando’s fashionable area, the shrine is just a minute’s walk from Harajuku Station on the JR Lines. If you take Tokyo Metro, it’s about a 10-minute walk from Omotesando Station.
– Information to prevent the spread of Covid-19: Washbasin provided / Purification basin use is prohibited / Priests, priestesses, and staff are required to put on masks / Mask wearing is enforced on all visitors / All people on-site are required to follow coughing etiquette / Food stalls will be unavailable / The office for amulets, and other items has moved from the main shrine to the worshiper parking lot and the area on the west approach / Up to 5 people can pray at once
– Open hours: December 31st, 6:40-16:00, January 1st, 6:00-18:30, January 2nd and 3rd 6:40-18:00, January 4th, 6:40-17:30, from 6:40 to 16:20 after January 5th * This year there is no overnight worship from New Year’s Eve to New Year’s Day.
– Hatsumode event: Seitansai Ceremony (7:00 a.m. January 1st)
Tokyo Daijingu (東京大神宮) – For Couples Looking for Luck in Love
Tokyo Daijingu was established in 1880 as a satellite sanctuary for the Ise Grand Shrine of Mie Prefecture. Since Emperor Taisho (1879-1926) performed his wedding ceremony here and was the first to be married to the imperial sanctuary gods when he was crown prince, he became known as the originator of Shinto-style weddings to the public.
The shrine itself embraces Musubi, the god of marriage, and people looking for luck in love and marriage naturally flock here to seek blessing. The shrine is popular among young women, and this becomes much more obvious during the hatsumode season. You’ll have to walk for about 5 minutes to get to the shrine from Iidabashi Station on Tokyo Metro.
– Information to prevent the spread of Covid-19: All staff are required to put on masks / Mask wearing is enforced on all visitors and sanitizer will be provided / All people on-site are required to follow coughing etiquette / Goshuin will be performed / Sake distribution and other events have been canceled.
– Open hours: 12 midnight – 9:00 p.m. on January 1st; 6:00 a.m. – 9:00 p.m. after January 2nd
– Hatsumode event: Commemorative mini-Oriental Zodiac wooden plaque (first 1,000 visitors who received an amulet or talisman between 8:00 a.m. – 10:00 a.m. from January 1st to January 3rd, 2021)
Kanda Shrine (神田明神)
Kanda Shrine was built about 1,300 years ago and housed the guardian gods of over 108 town councils in Kanda, Nihonbashi, and even Akihabara, the mecca of Japanese subculture.
The shrine’s hatsumode visitors include people from major companies since the shrine was established on Japan’s businesses’ central land, and most are naturally more focused on blessings for wealth and prosperity. It helps that it is only a quick 5-minute walk from Ochanomizu Station’s Hijiri Bashi Exit on the JR Lines, or a 7-minute walk from Akihabara Station’s Electric Town Exit on the JR Lines.
– Information to prevent the spread of Covid-19: Purification basin use is prohibited / Priests, priestesses, and staff are required to put on masks / Number of visitors in the main hall restricted / Mask wearing is enforced on all visitors / All people on-site are required to follow coughing etiquette / Prayer boards, amulets, and other items can be purchased online and delivered via mail
– Open hours: 24 hours
– Hatsumode event: Seitansai Ceremony *Morning of January 1st
Top 5 Temples and Shrines for Hatsumode
These are the top five shrines & temples recommendations for hatsumode in Tokyo listed by the Guidable team, but there are, of course, a lot of other places in the city where you can celebrate the new year as well.
When you’re out for your hatsumode, don’t forget to take all the necessary precautions to avoid the spread of Covid-19. Often consider visiting on days other than New Year’s Eve or New Year’s Day to reduce crowds. Keep in mind to wear a mask to protect yourself and the people around you!
Thank you for being with us going through a tough 2020! We wish you a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!