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Home » 5. Rites and Festivals » Rituals in Daily Life
Hatsumōde
This term refers to the visit of a shrine or a temple (sankei) at the beginning of a new year. In a narrow sense it refers to the visit on New Year's Day. Today it is very often the case that people visit shrines and temples from midnight on New Year's Eve in order to hear the temple bells ringing in the New Near (joya no kane), they then welcome in the New Year there and perform hatsumōde at the same time. Toshigomori is thought to be the origin of hatsumōde. Toshigomori means to seclude oneself in the shrine of one's tutelary deity (ujigami) from the early evening of New Year's Eve onward and to stay awake all night before the deity. In addition, the pilgrimage to a shrine or a temple that lies in the auspicious direction (ehōmōde) is also seen as an origin of hatsumōde. An auspicious direction (ehō) was regarded as that direction where this year's Toshitokujin lived and no cursed god (tatarigami) was to come. Each year's auspicious direction is determined according to the zodiac sign (eto). During the Edo period it was very popular to perform ehōmōde on New Year's Day by visiting temples or shrines that lay in the auspicious direction. Furthermore, in many places a special altar for the New Year (toshigamidana) is placed in the auspicious direction. In recent years there is a marked tendency in the countryside to visit the local temples and shrines, and in the cities to visit famous temples and shrines for hatsumōde. Among these are some that lie in a direction that has a special meaning as seen from Edo or from other cities, but in recent years the awareness of this during visits to temples and shrines is decreasing. Lately the number of visitors to the temples and shrines in the cities and their surroundings has increased, and shrines with large numbers of visitors include ones such as Meiji Jingū (Tōkyō), Sumiyoshi Taisha (Ōsaka), Fushimi Inari Taisha (Kyōto), Atsuta Jingū (Aichi), Tsurugaoka Hachimangū (Kanagawa), Dazaifu Tenmangū (Fukuoka), and Hikawa Jinja (Saitama).
See also Ehō

— Endō Jun
Images from the first visit to a shrine in the New Year on the January 1 at Matsudo Jinja.

Chiba prefecture, 2006

©Ōsawa Kōji

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