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Hatsumode, the first shrine visit

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Japanese traditional calendar

The Japanese annual traditional calendar typically starts with the first shrine visit of the year or Hatsumode.

If you are planning to go, it might be good idea to try one of the lesser known shrines first, because the sheer numbers of people, and waiting in very long lines to offer prayers at the more famous Shinto shrines can be a little daunting for the first time.

Oogi sensei, a Japanese language teacher at JOI gives a personal account of her feelings and memories of Hatsumode or the first shrine visit below. You can read the Japanese, learn some Kanji, check the vocabulary and practice your Japanese listening with this free Japanese language audio blog.

Japanese Wagashi sweets


By OOGI Tomoko


初詣とは新年になって初めて神社や寺院にお参りする行事です。 昨年一年の感謝を捧げたり、今年一年の無事や健康、合格祈願をしたりします。 日本人はこの初詣をとても大事にしていて、東京で有名な明治神宮の参拝者は300万人を越えるといわれています。

小さい頃初詣へ行くと、おみくじを引いたり、屋台でとうもろこしや綿菓子などを買ってもらうのが楽しみでした。 母となった今では、今年も息子を連れて初詣へ行ってきました。 人が多くてにぎやかな境内を歩くと今年も一年がんばろう!という気持ちになります。


To listen to this blog, please watch our Youtube video.


初詣(はつもうで)とは新年(しんねん)になって初(はじ)めて神社(じんじゃ)や寺院(じいん)にお参(まい)りする行事(ぎょうじ)です。 昨年(さくねん)一年(いちねん)の感謝(かんしゃ)をささげたり、今年(ことし)一年(いちねん)の無事(ぶじ)や健康(けんこう)、合格祈願(ごうかくきがん)をしたりします。 日本人(にほんじん)はこの初詣(はつもうで)をとても大事(だいじ)にしていて、東京(とうきょう)で有名(ゆうめい)な明治神宮(めいじじんぐう)の参拝者(さんぱいしゃ)は300万人(まんにん)を越(こ)えるといわれています。

小(ちい)さい頃(ころ)初詣(はつもうで)へ行(い)くと、おみくじを引(ひ)いたり、屋台(やたい)でとうもろこしや綿菓子(わたがし)などを買(か)ってもらうのが楽(たの)しみでした。 母(はは)となった今(いま)では、今年(ことし)も息子(むすこ)を連(つ)れて初詣(はつもうで)へ行(い)ってきました。 人(ひと)が多(おお)くてにぎやかな境内(けいだい)を歩(ある)くと今年(ことし)も一年(いちねん)がんばろう!という気持(きも)ちになります。


Hatsumode, the first shrine visit

Hatsumode is the event in which people visit a shrine when the new year begins. People go to offer gratitude for the past year and to pray that the new year is spent in good health, goes by without incident and in order to pray to pass some test or something.

Japanese people greatly value the first shrine visit (hatsumode) and at the famous Meiji shrine in Tokyo, over 3 million worshipers visit it each year.

When I was younger, I looked forward to going to Hatsumode to draw my fortune as well as buying corn and candy floss at the stalls around the shrine.

I have now become a mother and this year I took my son with to go to Hatsumode. As we walked around the crowded and lively shrine grounds I got the feeling of “Lets try hard this year too!”.

If you ever get a chance, please come and experience this mood for yourself.

新年(しんねん)  the new year

行事(ぎょうじ)  event

ささげる offer

合格祈願(ごうかくきがん)pray for pass something

参拝者(さんぱいしゃ) worshippers

綿菓子(わたがし) cotton candy/ candy floss

境内(けいだい) grounds of a temple/ grounds of a shrine

体験(たいけん) experience

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