Showing posts with label hatsumode. Show all posts
Showing posts with label hatsumode. Show all posts

Thursday, June 23, 2022

Hatsumode at Kurumesosha Hiyoshi Shrine

Japan Guide

January 2nd, 2014, I arrived back in Kurume to continue with my pilgrimage around Kyushu after having took a break to go home and visit my wife for a few days. On my way to the hotel I stoed in at a small, urban shrine, all decked out for the new year.

Kurume Sosha Hiyoshi Shrine is a branch of the Sanno shrine at the base of Mount Hie. It was originaly located in the castle but was relocated to this spot when the castle was rebuilt.

Hatsumode is the modern tradition of visiting a shrine or temple in the first days of the new year to pray for good fortune for the coming year, and I would guess that most Japanese take part nowadays with the most popular shirn receiving millions of visitors.

In the Edo period most peole did not do this. Some eole in the capital, Edo, started viiting shrines to the Seven Lucky Gods, and it is probably from this that Hatsumode grew with thencreation of a "national" religion and culture in the Meiji period.

Kurumesosha Hiyoshi Shrine has multiple sub-shrines in the grounds, and not surprisingly an Ebisu Shrine was verry popular. The cult of Ebisu is strong in the area.

What was surprising was a buddhist shrine in the grounds, to what appears to be Fudo Myo, and that would have been removed during the Meiji period. There was also an Inari shrine, another very popuar cult.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Hatsumode, January 2nd, Kyoto, Part 2


We wanted to visit Okazaki Shrine, but even on the afternoon of the 2nd the line waiting to get in was several hundred meters long. The reason is that the shrine has a famous statue of a rabbit. It is connected with fertility, so maybe we will see a spike in births in Kyoto in about 9 months.


Next up was Kumano Wakaoji Shrine, located at the southern end of the Philosophers Walk.

Here we were given some Amazake, a delicious warm sake drink with masses of ginger added.


Just behind the shrine were several small shrines and a nice little waterfall. The offerings here were less ostentatious.


You cannot go far in Kyoto without coming across Japanese umbrellas used in front of shops and restaurants.


Then on to Awata Shrine, a nice neighborhood shrine in the hills above Gion that seemed to be only visited by locals, and not tourists.


I lived in Kyoto when I first moved to Japan, but I didnt really explore it much. It is nice to come back and play the tourist and see it with different eyes.


The giant torii of Heian Jingu with snow falling on the mountains to the north.


Last stop was Yasaka Shrine, and even as evening approached on the second day of the new year it was still very crowded.


Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Hatsumode, January 2nd, Kyoto


Though technically Hatsumode refers to the first shrine visit of the year, and of course there can only be one first, many people, myself included, take the opportunity to visit more than one.

The first place we went in Kyoto was Yoshida Shrine where there were no lines of people.


There are quite a few sub-shrines scattered around the hillside, all with offerings laid out in front of the honden.


Omota Sha is a shrine I have been wanting to visit for a long time, but is usually closed, it only opens a few days a year. It features a unique octagonal building.


Omoto Sha also features shrines for all of the provinces of Japan.


The sunny day caused the snow on the roofs to constantly melt and drip.


Nearby is Munetada Shrine, again not so many visitors.


Here we were given Omiki.

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.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

New Shimenawa


The new year so far has been cold and windy with snow flurries and sleet. I've stayed in my nest close to woodstove. Yesterday there was a break in the weather, so I decided to venture out and visit the local shrine for Hatsumode (first shrine visit of the year). The tori were still decked out in their new years decorations.


My main reason to visit was to see the new shimenawa, the "sacred rope" that is used to demarcate sacred space. In my village the shimenawa is replaced every 10 years, and this one was made in the weeks after the harvest matsuri last November.


Shimenawa come in all shapes and sizes, and are traditionally made of rice-straw, though in some places plastic is now being used. Here in Iwami the shimenawa tend to be large, though not as large as those in Izumo. I remember when I first came here a villager apologized that because the village was poor they couldn't afford to make on as big as the one at Izumo Taisha, the biggest in Japan.


I had hoped to see this one being constructed, but in the end i was too busy in November..

After that brief spell of sunshine and stillness the weather has reverted to freezing wind and flurries.


I have quite an extensive collection of photos of different types of shimenawa, so eventually will get round to posting a more explanatory blog about them.

Wednesday, December 31, 2008

New Year in Japan

My first experience of New Year in Japan was in Kyoto. We decided to visit the nearby Shimogamo Shrine a little after midnight for hatsumode, the first shrine visit of the year. We left home about 11.45 planning on getting to the shrine after midnight. After walking for a while I asked Yoko what the time was and she told me it was 00.05!!... I had been waiting for the noise to mark the new year, but it was totally quiet. Every country I have ever lived in marks the turning of the year with noise,... fireworks, church bells, car horns, boat horns, or people cheering and singing, but in Japan....nada!

I had never been to Shimogamo shrine before, so I was looking forward to looking around. Hah! fat chance!... to say it was crowded would be an understatement. The throng was so tightly packed that I could easily have lifted both feet off the ground and been carried around by the shuffling masses.

Next year we decided to do hatsuhinode, watching the first sunrise of the year. We went down to Shionomisaki, the southernmost tip of the Wakayama Peninsular, the southernmost point of Honshu. We slept out on the cliff along with a couple of dozen other people, and were joined in the pre-dawn light by several hundred others. It was a cloudy morning, so not particular memorable.

My best experience of New Year in Japan was a couple of years ago.


I'd heard about a mountain behind Arifuku, Honmyozan, that people went to to watch the first sunrise, so we contacted friends who live in Arifuku to ask where the trail up the mountain was. Very kindly they contacted the ujiko (parishioners group) of the small shrine on the mountaintop, and they offered to take us up there with them.


We got to the top around 22:00, built a big fire, then settled into the tiny shrine to drink sake and eat wild boar stew caught by some of the hunters in the group.


A few hours before sunrise more people started to arrive after having climbed the mountain in the dark.


By sunrise about 40 people were gathered together in the freezing cold. The sunrise was worth waiting for as it was a cloudless sky. The views from the mountain were impressive.


We came down the mountain through the sun-dappled forest.

Not sure what we'll do this year. It snowed all day yesterday, and a thick blanket of white still covers the ground.