Hatsumode: Japanese First Shrine Visit

What is Hatsumode?

Hatsumode is the first shrine visit, which many people do between on the 1st and the 3rd in January.

photo credit: Dick Thomas Johnson Kanda Shrine: Hatsumode via photopin (license)

History of Hatsumode

In the past the head of families went to their local shrines on the new year’s eve, wising for a better luck for the next year, and stayed there overnight.
This is said to be the origin of hatsumode.

Some people also say that the first shogun, Yoritomo Minamoto, visiting the famous shrine in Kamakura, “Tsurugaoka Hachimanguu”, in 1181 marks the start of hatsumode.



Until the Meiji era, people went to their local shrine.
However, starting from the Meiji era, the train system was introduced into Japan and this made it possible for people to go to a far but famous shrines/temples.

People usually took a train to their destination shrines/temples and took a tour around the place.
Even some train companies, such as Keisei line and Keihin Kyuukou line were born purely for the hatsumode transportation.


Rules of hatsumode

There are no rules about hatsumode.
Like, no matter when you go to the shrine, if it is the first visit, it is counted as a first shrine visit.
You don’t have to go between 1st and 3rd in January.

Also, you can go to as many shrines/temples as you want.
Some school of religions believes that the more places you go to, the better your luck will be.

What to do when you go to hatsumode

1. You purify your hands and mouth water provided this way.


2. You make a money offering, pray and bow

初詣のお賽銭、いちばん多く出すのはどの地域? 最高金額は注目度47位の……



3. You buy some charms, which helps you have good lucks by absorbing every bad lucks for you!


4. You return charms which you bought the previous year if any.

The charms last year are supposed to be full of bad lucks because they protected you from bad lucks by taking all bad lucks for you.

The returned charms are burned away.


Where are the famous hatsumode destinations?

No.1 Meiji Shrine(Tokyo)

There were 3.17 million hatumode visitors


No.2 Narita-san Shinsho-Ji(Chiba)

There were 3.09 million hatumode visitors


No.3 Kawasaki Daishi(Kanagawa)

There were 3.07 million hatumode visitors


No.4 Senso-Ji(Tokyo)

There were 2.91 million hatumode visitors


No.5 Tsurugaoka Hachimangu(Kanagawa)

There were 2.5 million hatumode visitors



No.6 Sumiyoshi-Taisha(Osaka)

There were 2.39 million hatumode visitors


No7 Atsuta Shrine(Aichi)

There were 2.3 million hatumode visitors



No.8 Hikawa Shrine (Saitama)

There were 2.1 million hatumode visitors



No.9 Dazaifu Tenmangu(Fukuoka)

There were 2  million hatumode visitors


No.10 Ikuta Shrine(Hyogo)

There were 1.5 million hatumode visitors



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