New Year’s in Japan is somewhat equivalent to Christmas holiday where people return to their parents’ homes for several days to spend a family time together. Especially during the first three days of the year, it is a tradition for Japanese to visit shrines to give prayers for a good fortune for the new year known as “hatsumode”. Here is a guide to the top 10 most visited shrines and temples in New Years.
Manners and Customs of Visiting a Shrine
While the following related article is about taking a visit to Shinto shrine, knowing the proper manners on how to take a visit to the shrine is a must. Prior to taking a visit, take a look at the following related article on the most basic and correct way of visiting a shrine and its manners and customs one should pay attention to on the shrine grounds, from bowing to washing your hands to others.READ MORE
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Meiji Shrine is a Shinto shrine dedicated to Emperor Meiji and Empress Shoken. Its grounds consist of an inner and outer garden as well as the Meiji Kinenkan, which can be used as a venue for weddings and other ceremonies. In the heart of Tokyo right next to a shopping district of Harajuku, the shrine is surrounded by a lush of manmade forest just had its centennial anniversary. In Fall 2019 as part of events commemorating the shrine's 100th anniversary, the Meiji Jingu Museum was opened to display treasures connected to Emperor Meiji and Empress Shoken which were formerly kept in the Meiji Jingu Homotsuden (Treasure Museum). This shrine is the most popular location to celebrate New Years in Tokyo with over 3 million visitors during the New Years. Every year, visitors stand in lines for hours in the cold before reaching the main gate.READ MORE
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Tokyo Daijingu Shrine
Famed for blessings to tie the knot, the shinto shrine, Tokyo Daijingu Shrine is one of Tokyo's top five shrines which was the first shrine to hold a wedding ceremony. Popular as a wedding venue, worshippers in hopes of improving their fortunes in love or any love-related issues visit this shrine. The shrine is otherwise known as “O-Ise-sama in Tokyo'' due to the deities ( Amaterasu-Sume-Okami and Toyouke-no-Okamithat) enshrined there. These two deities are also enshrined in the Ise Jingu Shrine in the Mie Prefecture, and hence, the name “Ise” came from.
Sensoji dates back to 628, when it was built as a place to worship Kannon, the goddess of mercy. The current temple structures date back to 1958. Today, thousands of people visit Sensoji every year, with many of them first making a stop at the Kaminarimon, literally translated as “Thunder Gates'' which is the main gate of the temple. Before heading down the Nakamise shopping street towards the main temple building, visitors stop by at the gate to pose in front of the big lantern. The main temple precinct includes an impressive wood-paneled main hall and the five-storied Sensoji Temple Pagoda and also, a Shinto shrine, Asakusa-jinja within the premises.READ MORE
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Located on an adjacent hill in the middle of Tokyo, a Shinto Shrine, Hie Shrine is one of the Tokyo’s top 5 shrines enshrines protective divinities of the former Edo Castle. The shrine is famous for blessings to tie the knot, business prosperity and success in work. Compared to other shrines that have the stature of animals shaped in a dog-like creature, Komainu, the guardian at this shrine is a monkey. In Japan, there is a belief that monkeys are a symbol of child-loving and these guardians at Hiei Shrine are thought to bring blessings to safe deliveries and the prosperity of children.
Yushima Tenjin Shrine
Yushima Tenjin Shrine is a Shinto shrine devoted to the God of Learning, popular with exam takers and students. The shrine is a walking distance from Ueno Park known to hold many museums on its grounds. The shrine precincts are so elegant, and they were the subject of works by the ukiyo-e artist, Utagawa Hiroshige. During the flower viewing season in February and March, many visit the shrine to see the plum blossoms bloom on the temple grounds.READ MORE
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The head of 108 Tokyo districts including Akihabara and Uogashi (fishmarket), Kanda Myojin Shrine has a rich history of over 1,300years where it enshrines three major kami (deities or spirits of Shinto religion) dedicated to success in business, marriage, prosperity and happiness. It is said that this shrine has once protected the whole of Edo (old Tokyo) from harm. Today, many visit the shrine not just as a popular power spot but also as a venue for cultural exchange where tradition meets the innovation at EDOCCO (Edo Culture Complex) where it embodies the traditional charm of the city’s Edo period heritage, located within the premises.READ MORE
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Okunitama Jinja Shrine is a Shinto shrine located in Fuchu City, Tokyo, and is one of the oldest shrines in Japan with a history of about 1900 years. The shrine enshrines the guardian deity of the historical region of Musahi who is famed as the God of good luck, matchmaking, protection against misfortune and cleansing from evil. There are numerous cultural assets on the premises such as the wooden komainu (guardian) in addition to the shrine buildings. The zelkova trees on the path to the shrine are designated as a national natural monument. Together with Otori Shrine and Hanazono Shrine, this Okunitama-Jinja Shrine makes the 3 greatest Tori no Ichi festivals (Rooster Festival) in Kanto regions.
A Shinto shrine, Suitengu Shrine is a branch shrine of the Kurume Suitengu Shrine in Kurume, Fukuoka Prefecture, and is well known for a place for worshippers to seek easy delivery and offer prayers for children. There are many expecting mothers and children on weekends. On the left hand side of the shrine grounds, a statue of a mother dog and her puppy indicate how this shrine is connected around childbirth.READ MORE
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Takahata Fudo-son Kongo-ji Temple
Takahata Fudo-son Kongo-ji Temple is one of the oldest temples in the Kanto region serving as the special head temple of the Chisan sect of Shingon Buddhism. Its official name is “Takahatasan Myooin Kongo-ji Temple.” From around early June to early July, the temple is filled with visitors to see the famous hydrangea flowers in full bloom.
Nishiarai Daishi Temple
Nishiarai Daishi Temple, formerly known as Sojiji, is known as one of Japan’s flower temples. From around early April there are approximately 100 types, total of 2,500 peony are in full bloom attracting many visitors. The temple is a Shingon Buddhism located in northeastern Tokyo in Adachi ward. Many worshipper pay a visit to the temple to pray against misfortune.