7 Points to Enjoy Hatsumode in Japan!

7 Points to Enjoy Hatsumode in Japan

For us Japanese, New Year is definitely the biggest celebration of the year. January 1st is of course a very special day, but we are so excited about celebrating the beginning of the year, we give ourselves another 2 days to party! So when we say “oshogatsu” (new year), we generally refer to these first 3 days in January. During the 3 days, we go to “hatsumode.” But what is “hatsumode?” I will start with what it is, and how you can enjoy it like Japanese!



 

7 Points to Enjoy Hatsumode in Japan!

 

1. What is “hatsumode”?

The literal meaning of “hatsumode” is the first (hatsu) visit to shrine (mode). We go to a Shinto shrine or a Buddhist temple to give a prayer to god. It is to refresh what has happened the year before and start the new year in a new mode.

 

2. Where do you go?

So where do you go to “hatsumode”? You can either go to a Shinto shrine or a Buddhist temple, but I will tell you how we Japanese pick which one to visit. Each shrine or a temple has a specialty; good business, getting a good partner, etc. Thus depending on the wish you want to make, you can make your choice!

 

3. Are there any manners in “hatsumode”?

Although “hatsumode” has turned into a casual event, there are a few things you can follow to pray like a Japanese. First, clean your hands at the washbowl in the entrance. This is an act to purify your body and soul. Then you go in front of the main temple and ring the bell. There is a long string hanging from the bell to ring it. You make offerings, take a bow, and say your prayers.

 

4. Make a wish!

It is a common tradition for Japanese to make a wish at “hatsumode.” However it is not well known even to Japanese to thank god for the past year. Many people go to shrine to wish for a good luck, great business, and to have a great partner, but many tend to forget to mention their gratitude. So this is the secret for your wish to come true!

 

5. Try “omikuji” (fortune message)

We Japanese consider that everything renews in the New Year. So we ask the god how the year is going to be. When we go to “hatsumode,” we shake a box filled with pieces of wood with numbers on it. We pick one of them and we receive a piece of paper with the same number. In the piece of paper, there is a message that tells us what the future will be.

 

6. Wear kimono!

In old days, it was a tradition to dress up for “hatsumode.” All the young girls wore “furisode,” the long sleeved kimono, and others in their best kimono. Although the tradition has become more casual in the recent years, you can still see a few people dressed in kimono. It will be a memorable occasion to wear kimono and go to “hatsumode”!

 

7. Share your fortune with family and friends!

It was considered in the past that we also receive a good renewed spirit when we go and pray at shrines and temples. Don’t keep it just for yourself, but share with your loved ones! Ask your friends to go with you or talk about your experience.

 

Conclusion

So now that you know a little bit about “hatsumode,” start planning a trip to Japan during the New Year. Don’t forget to make a wish, but also to show respect at shrines and temples. They have been handed down to us for centuries. We, too, can hand down to the next generation!

 

7 Points to Enjoy Hatsumode in Japan!

1. What is “hatsumode”?
2. Where do you go?
3. Are there any manners in “hatsumode”?
4. Make a wish!
5. Try “omikuji” (fortune message)
6. Wear kimono!
7. Share your fortune with family and friends!