Hatsumode refers to the ‘first shrine or temple visit’. It marks a person’s first visit to the shinto shrine or a Buddhist temple during the new year. It used to be an absolute custom to visit a shrine or a temple during the new year that is located in the direction of one’s home; it was considered to be extremely auspicious and is said to bring prosperity in the next year. This practice used to be called ‘ehomairi’. But, nowadays, it has become a common practice to visit famous shrines and temples, not bothering about their locations. The visits to the shrine or temples begin at midnight on the new year’s eve, and are made by a large number of people.
during Hatsumode many people get their fortune predicted by drawing an ‘omikuji’ which is a paper that tells you about your luck in the upcoming year. many people buy various charms and amulets, along with talismans that are supposed to ward off evil and increase one’s luck in the upcoming year. These are kind of like lucky charms. many people even bring charms and amulets of the previous year and offer it to kami, to purify and incinerate them, in order to return it back to the heavens. Many people write their wishes on wooden wishing plaques and hang the in the shrines to get their wishes granted by the kami.
The most popular shrines that are visited by people during the new year are Tokyo’s Meiji Shrine, Kamakura’s Tsurugaoka Hachiman Shrine and Kyoto’s Yasaka Shrine. These shines expect millions of visitors on the first three days of new year each year. It is the most auspicious to visit the shine on the 1st of January, but nowadays, people avoid going to the shires on day one as it gets very crowded.