Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Hatsumode, January 1st, Nagaokakyo


Hatsumode is the Japanese custom of the first visit of the new year to a shrine or temple.

We were up in Kyoto visiting Yoko's family, and our first visit was to Nagaoka Tenmangu, a big, and therefore popular shrine.

It was late afternoon, and still the line waiting to get to the shrine was over 400 meters long.


Most of the bigger shrines will hire many temporary miko to help out over the new year period. For these shrines Hatsumode supplies the biggest chunk of their annual income.


Next we headed to Hashirita Shrine, the local shrine for my sister-in-law's family, nestled on the hillside above Nagaoka. It was a far more intimate and friendly affair.


Every small altar within the grounds had their own offerings.


Around the other side of the hill a small, unmanned Inari Shrine.



We walked further along the edge of the bamboo forest and as dusk settled visited Komorikate Shrine where I was able to chat with 2 older gentlemen from the shrines ujiko (parish group) about the history of the shrine that was moved here from Nara when Nagaoka was the capital of Japan.


Each year a local man makes a sculpture out of bamboo of the new years animal. Behind this years rabbit you can see last years tiger and 2009's boar.


  1. Stunningly beautiful sculptures.
    There's a magic atmosphere in all your photos.
    Thank you.

  2. Love it! Those bamboo statues are adorable. New Year's at the shrine is the best! Great post

  3. That last photo is really nice. Sort of reminds me of the baby new year in front with a series of old father times fading off in the distance.

  4. I really like the idea with the bamboo statues. Statues from how many years are there?

  5. Thank you Jake for a wonderful year of posting about a subject that many of us enjoy (and in a way that inspires and brings joy to us all). Have a great year!

    akemashite omedetou gozaimasu!

  6. Thanks Ben. All the best to you and yours for the coming year

  7. Hi Matus
    Just those three were there