Hatsumode is the first visit to a shrine or temple in the New Year, where you pray for a good, save, wealthy coming year.
It is the tradition to visit the Meiji shrine every year with our company and a befriended architect.
Last year and the year before I couldn’t participate due to illness and parental leave, but this year I was able to go again.
We had beautiful weather and a beautiful lighting and needed to stop every few meters to take pictures.
In this entry I want to show you some of the pictures I took and explained how to do hatsumode.
At the entrance to the shrine compounds was a large box, where we were able to dispose our lucky charms from the previous year. It is common to buy lucky charms like omamori (small sacks made out of fabric and which shouldn’t be opened), arrows or wooden plates and return them when not needed anymore. They will be burnt later.
After returning our company’s lucky charms, we went through the Torii at the entrance to the compounds. Be sure to bow once before entering when going to talk to the kami (god). When arriving at the shrine buildings, there is a water basin to the left, where to symbolically clean the hand and the mouth.
Grab a bamboo laddle and collect fresh water (not water from the basin) in it. Then give a little bit of the water into your left hand (in front of the basin, not above it!), then in your right and again in your left. Keep a little bit there and put the water from your hand into the mouth. Don’t drink it, but spill it out in front of the basin. After that, let the remaining water in the laddle flow down its shaft to clean it and return it. There is one more Torii and we bow again when entering. The first way leads to the main hall, where to pray to the god. It is common to offering some money. The amount is up to you, but you should add a 5 Yen coin for good luck. At Meiji shrine, you pray with bowing twice, clapping your hands twice and let them together after the second one. Silently tell the god your name and where you are living and then do your prayer or thank the god for its support. Finish with putting your hands down and bow again.
Now we where ready to participate in the ceremony. Here, the head priest is praying for the wealth of the company. You can also choose for safety or as prevention against the bad-luck-year. To participate, you need to fill out a form with your information. Then you go to the desk and pay a special amount. At Meiji shrine you can choose between 5000 Yen and 30000 Yen. Later you get charms and a gift depending on the amount you gave.
The ceremony is held every hour or half an hour in the ceremony hall. It is not allowed to enter with shoes. Everyone is kneeling down in rows and a lower rank priest is doing a first purification before the head priest is reading all the names of the participants and the purpose of their participation. Then he gives a prayer. After the main part of the ceremony is done, some musicians will enter the stage and two Miko, girls working at the shrine, will dance for the pleasure of the good.
After getting a bag with the charms, everyone is also getting a small sip of Sake before leaving the hall. We then went to buy some additional charms before heading back to Yoyogi to get a good lunch. Be sure to bow behind the Torii again when you leave the shrine!
Although this entry was different from previous and didn’t feature a garden, I hope you enjoyed reading a small episode from a normal workers life in a Japanese company.
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