KIMONO on New Year’s Day! HATSUMODE Manners in Japan
Have you heard of Hatsumode (初詣)? It’s a Japanese custom to visit Shrines or Temples. What do Japanese actually do on Hatsumode?
- 1 What is Hatsumode?
- 2 History of Hatsumode
- 3 What do Japanese do during Hatsumode?
- 4 Where to Rent Kimono for Hatsumode
- 5 Summary
What is Hatsumode?
If you are interested in Kimono manners, check this one! → Kimono Manners and How to Enjoy Kyoto with Rental Kimono
Japanese go to Shrines or Temples at the beginning of the year to wish a great year. They usually go between January 1st and 3rd and popular Shrines and Temples will be packed during this period of time.
If you go to famous ones such as Meiji-jingu (明治神宮) or Senso-ji (浅草寺) in Tokyo, you would have to wait for a while.
You can even go after January the 3rd but most people finish Hatdumode by January the 7th.
History of Hatsumode
The very first type of Hatsumode was completed by one of the family members. Father or grandfather used to stay at Shrine to hope family’s wellness and happiness.
The word “Hatsumode” first used in 1885. Before people went to Hatsumode, they used to stay at home for New Year’s Day.
It was Japan Railway Company that started to run Steam Trains in 1885. Everyone was interested in Steam Trains and hoped to get it on one day.
As a part of promotion, passengers get off at Shrines and spend time there. Then others also get off at Shrines and other places. Japan Railway Company promoted different destinations and Hatsumode was their big event. This was how Hatsumode started.
Steam Trains made travel easy and attracted people. Japan Railway Company was happy that many people used their Steam Trains. Employees from Shrines and Temples were glad that they had a large number of people for Hatsumode.
What do Japanese do during Hatsumode?
Typical Hatsumode is done sometime between January 1st and 3rd because most of the Japanese are off until January 3rd (depending on day and company though).
Many Japanese go to Hatsumode by January 7th but there is no strict rule on duration.
Some people wear Kimono when going to Hatsumode but it’s not required. Others go without Kimono and that’s totally fine.
Hatsumode is not restricted to once only, thus some people go few times every year.
Below are steps what to do when going to Shrines or Temples. These are not requirement but most Japanese follow the steps.
Step 1: Clean with Water
In famous or big Temples and Shrines, you would see people washing hands and mouth when entering facilities. They do that to purify before praying.
If there is no place to wash (small facilities might not have any), don’t worry about this step.
Step 2: Head to Shinden (神殿)
After cleaning hands and mouth, go to Shinden or a main building and get ready to pray for a new year. During first 3 days in January, many people come to pray so you might have to wait.
Step 3: Give Osaisen
Osaisen means money. Most people give money when praying for a new year and the amount is up to you.
Some people might pay 5 yen, while others might pay 5,000 yen.
The reason some people pay 5 yen is because it sounds like “good relations” in Japanese.
Paying 5,000 yen doesn’t guarantee something good would happen to you, but it’s more about your attitude and feeling.
As long as you pray sincerely, amount doesn’t matter. You throw money into the Osaisen box (offertory box) in front of you. The box is big enough to take lots of coins and bills.
Step 4: Bow and Clap Hands
After you throw money into the Osaisen box, ring a bell. The bell is usually located right in front of you, above the Osaisen box.
You shake the rope and ring the bell. Then bow twice (angle should be somewhere between 45-90 degrees). Clap your hands twice and pray for a new year. You can wish anything.
“I want to pass Tokyo University.”
“I want to marry.”
“I want to buy a house.”
“I want my family to be happy and healthy.” etc…
After praying bow again and you can leave.
Many Japanese enjoy Omikuji, or a written oracle when going to Hatsumode. Different blessing is written on a piece of paper.
Some of the examples are below.
|Types of Blessing||In Japanese||In English|
Getting Great Curse is not the end of the world.
If you get one of the Curse, Small Curse or Great Curse, you can tie up the Omikuji to tree and leave it in Shrine or Temple.
Otherwise, you can bring it back with you and keep it with you.
It seems scary to get one of the Curse, but it doesn’t mean you would be unhappy coming year.
Curse means you are not that powerful compared to Blessing but it doesn’t mean something bad will happen to you.
Where to Rent Kimono for Hatsumode
Although it’s not required, some people wear Kimono when going to Hatsumode. What if you don’t have Kimono but want to wear for New Year’s event?
You can rent Kimono and staff would help you wear Kimono.
Asobigiya is located 5 minutes from Roppongi station.
Very convenient location and you can go there without any equipment.
If they are not busy, you don’t have to make a reservation. However, for New Year’s Day, it’s better to make a reservation. The beginning of January will be busy because Japanese want to wear Kimono.
Address: Roppongi International Building 5F, 7-3-12 Roppongi, Minato ward,Tokyo
Business Hours:11a.m.-7p.m. (closed Tuesdays)
Kimono Stylist Mieko (きものすたいりすと みえこ)
This shop is located near Skytree in Sumida ward. It takes about 3 minutes from Oshiage station (Tokyo Metro or Toei Asakusa Line).
They can also help you to set your hair and apply makeup if needed.
You can rent Kimono as well as Yukata in summer. Call to make a reservation.
Address:3-4-12, Narihira, Sumida ward, Tokyo
Business Hours: 10a.m.-7p.m., 7 days a week (Monday 1p.m. to 7p.m.)
Hatsumode is not religious ritual. Rather, it’s an event that people go with family, friends and partners and wish a great year.
Some Japanese wear Kimono, while others wear casual clothes when going to Hatsumode.
When I was in Japan, I didn’t go Hatsumode every year, but it was fun to go with friends.
You would see people waiting in popular destinations, such as Meiji Jingu, even before New Year’s Day.
They would go there on December 31st and want to pray as soon as possible.
Just like Christmas and Valentine’s Day in Japan, Hatsumode was also commercialized by Railway Company.
If you are interested, go visit Shrine or Temple between January 1-3rd. You will be surprised how many people would be waiting there!
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