Hatsumode (初詣) is a typical event in the New Year season. People pray for happiness for the coming year and thank God for the previous year. Popular temples and shrines get very busy during the New Year season. It gets crowded, especially around countdown time until 3 am on New Year's Day. You should experience it at least once during your stay in Japan but remember to choose a time which is not too crowded!

Sumiyoshi Taisya

Of the 2000 in existence, this shrine is the headquarters of all of Sumiyoshi shrines (住吉大社) in Japan. Throughout history, many people have believed in this shrine. During the New Year season, there are a lot of events here and the shrine has more than 2 million visitors. This shrine is a very popular spot for local people. For local people, the Hatsumode period is nearly equivalent to “Sumiyossan (the visit to this shrine)”

This shrine’s main building was built in 1810 and is considered a national treasure. Additionally, this shrine has many important assets, such as “Hanbashi”, which is the symbol of this shrine. This shrine has a sacred tree which is 1000 years old in the huge compound, so you can see and feel the long history of this shrine. You can also buy popular souvenirs in the neighborhood of the shrine, one of which is called “Satsuma Yaki”. Satsuma Yaki is a Japanese sweet snack that looks like a yam.

Business Hours & Schedule

10pm 31st December ~ 10pm 1st January

6am to 9pm 2nd ~3rd January

6am to 6pm 4th ~5th January

Address: 9-89 2-chome, Sumiyoshi, Sumiyoshi-ku, Osaka-shi

Access: 3 minutes on foot from Nankaihon line, Sumiyoshi Taisha Station. 5 minutes east on foot from Nankai Takano line, Sumiyashihigashi Station. By the Hankai line, Sumiyoshi Torii Mae Station.

Yasaka Shrine(八坂神社)

Yasaka shrine is the headquarters of all of Gionsha in Japan, and people call this shrine ‘Gion San”. A lot of people visit this shrine from New Year’s Eve to New Year’s Day and like to bring back sacred fire on a lucky rope for the year’s safety. Also, Ohtasha Shirahige Taisha, which is located inside Yasaka Shrine, is famous for blessings for entertainment. This is why many Geisha and Maiko will visit this shrine too. During the New Year’s season, there will be a lot of street stalls inside the Yasaka Shrine and around Maruyama Park. They are open late until the 5th of January, and you can enjoy the snacks from street stalls.

New Year’s Lucky charm giving hours

January 1st to 3rd 7am - 10pm

January 4th, 8am - 6pm

*The precinct of Yasaka shrine opens all day

Address: 625 Kitagawa, Gion-cho, Higashiyama-ku, Kyoto-shi, Kyoto

Access: 5 minutes on foot from Keihan Gion Shijo Station. 8minutes on foot from Hankyu Kawaramachi Station. 15 minutes by car from JR Kyoto Station. By city bus no.206 Gion Station from JR Kyoto Station

Dazaihu Tenmangu (太宰府天満宮)

This shrine is the headquarters of all 12000 Tenmangu Shrines in Japan. This shrine is a very high-class shrine and around 8 million people visit here annually. This shrine is famous for the God of study, meaning many students visit this shrine. During new year season, there’s a lot of street stalls in the precinct, and many of them are open until late. Fresh baked Umegae Mochi, a delicious Japanese rice cake is very famous as a snack or souvenir of this shrine. There are also many street stalls which offer games. So, there is a lot of fun after worship!

Opening hours and schedule

Opening all day from 6:30am 31st December ~ 3rd January

Address: 4-7-1 Saifu, Dazaifu-shi, Fukuoka

Access: 5-minute walk from Nishitetsu Dazaifu Station

Ise Jingu(伊勢神宮)

This shrine's nickname is “Oise San’, but the formal name is actually “Jingu”. This is the headquarters of all of shrines in Japan and is treated as the ‘special one’ in Japan. This old shrine has a few thousand years of history and is the symbol of Japanese authentic tradition. People can feel the sanctity in the huge solemn precinct. Also, this shrine is well known as “a spiritual home for Japanese hearts”. After worshipping, you should stop by the well-known Oharai-Machi and Okage-Yokocho. These streets are very lively, and there are a lot of souvenir shops and restaurants. Don’t forget to try Ise’s incredible, well known red bean mochi called “Akafuku”.

Address: Ise Grand Shrine - 1 Ujitachi-cho, Ise-shi, Mie-ken

Geku - 279 Toyokawa-cho, Ise-shi, Mie-Ken

Access: Ise Grand Shrine- 15 minutes by bus from Kintetsu Ujiyamada Station

Geku - 5 minutes on foot from JR, Kintetsu Ise-shi Station

Opening hours and schedule

Opening all day from 5am 31st December ~ 10pm 5th January

5am to 6pm, 6th ~7th January

5am to 6pm 8th January~  

Izumo Taisha(出雲大社)

Main Structure ・ Festival Lookout

Hall for sacred dances

This shrine has a long history. It is said that when October starts, all Gods come and gather to this shrine from all over Japan. The God of this shrine is Daikoku Sama (大黒様) and is well known for matchmaking, so a lot of people visit this shrine for good fate. There are many places to see in this shrine; the main shrine is a national treasure and this shrine has a sacred straw rope. Visiting Izumo is also about trying Izumo Soba. Here, there is a soba restaurant with more than 200 years of history. It is worthwhile to try along with a helping of sacred sake.

Opening hours and schedule

6:30am 31st December ~ 8:00pm 1st January

6:30am to 8:00pm January 2nd ~ 5th

Address: 195 Taisha-cho Kizukihigashi, Izumo-shi, Shimane-ken

Access: 25 minutes by Ichihata Bus (heading to Izumo Taisha, Hinomisaki, Uryu) from JR Izumo-shi Station 


This article's information was gathered on 11/15/2018.

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