Hatsumode, the first shrine or temple visit of the New Year, is a special tradition in Japan. The precincts of shrines and temples are normally filled with crowds creating a special atmosphere. However, this year is different. The whole world is fighting against COVID-19. Therefore, if you are planning to visit a shrine or temple, it’s important to plan ahead to avoid crowds. In this article, we introduce three popular shrines that tend to get crowded and share all information you need to know to be prepared!
Kanda Myojin is a shrine with a history of about 1,300 years. While keeping established traditions, the shrine also does collaborations with anime and games. Therefore, the shrine has amulets, votive tablets, and other shrine goods with anime designs! Moreover, the shrine regularly holds unique exhibitions and events, successfully combining tradition and innovation.
About the first visit to Kanda Myojin
Kanda Myojin is open 24 hours a day, so it’s a good place to avoid congestion by worshipping at night or early in the morning. Also, many people are expected to make a trip to the shrine between January 1st and 5th. To avoid congestion, you might want to go after that, between January 8th and February 3rd of the Chinese New Year. Kanda Myojin also has an “Automatic amulet distribution machine” and an “Automatic omikuji distribution machine” installed in the precincts. And if you want to be completely sure, you can check the congestion status on your smartphone!
Further information: https://www.kandamyoujin.or.jp/event/detail/?id=129
2-16-2 Sotokanda, Chiyoda-ku, Tokyo
Google Maps: https://goo.gl/maps/na71CTu7tMca8uX77
Nearest stations: Ochanomizu Station, Shin-Ochanomizu Station, Suehirocho Station, Akihabara Station
Hie-jinja Shrine, which has a history of about 500 years, is said to have benefits for people trying to find love, wishing for a safe delivery, and raising your children healthy. That is also the reason, why this shrine is very popular for holding traditional Shinto weddings.
The monkey statues you can literally find EVERYWHERE are one of the shrine’s key characteristics. In particular, the lovely monkey statue of a mother monkey and her baby to the left of the main hall is said to bring good luck to pregnant women or women who want to have children.
About the first visit of the year to Hie-jinja Shrine
Hie Shrine does its best to prepare everything so that it won’t get too crowded. But if possible, avoid visiting the shrine in the period between January 1st and 3rd, and also Saturdays, Sundays, and holidays in January, when most people are expected to visit the shrine.
Please note, that the annual Hamaya-Kagura dance (during which decorative arrows – hamaya – supposed to ward off evil, are handed over to visitors by the dancers) is canceled.
New Year information: https://www.hiejinja.net/news/2020/rules_of_the_first_visit.html
2-10-5 Nagatacho, Chiyoda-ku, Tokyo
Google Maps: https://goo.gl/maps/Aa71aZs3UD4pmBFc6
Nearest stations: Akasaka Station, Tameike-sanno Station, Kokkai-gijidomae Station, Akasaka-mitsuke Station
Tokyo Daijingu (Tokyo Grand Shrine)
Tokyo Daijingu in Iidabashi is also called “O-Ise-sama in Tokyo”. During the Edo period (1603-1868), it was everyone’s dream to go on a pilgrimage to the Grand Shrine of Ise (Ise Jingu Shrine) at least once in their lifetime. But traveling wasn’t as easy then, so this big dream stayed unfulfilled for most. That’s why later, a new (Ise-branched) shrine was built in Tokyo, making it possible to worship the deities from afar without having to travel to Ise. That is Tokyo Daijingu.
Tokyo Daijingu is especially popular with young women because it is said to be beneficial for marriage and love fulfillment.
About the first visit of the year to Tokyo Daijingu
At Tokyo Daijingu visitors are asked to plan their visit sometime in the period between December and February as a measure to prevent the spread of COVID-19. This is to prevent crowds during the first three days of January.
In addition to wearing a face mask and using hand sanitizer, please refrain from talking as much as possible in the precincts.
New Year information: http://www.tokyodaijingu.or.jp/hatsumoude/index.html
Tokyo Daijingu (Tokyo Grand Shrine)
2-4-1 Fujimi, Chiyoda-ku, Tokyo
Google Maps: https://goo.gl/maps/3UuhNTCHz1j2s8CT6
Nearest station: Iidabashi Station