Not ones to waste a public holiday sleeping off the night before, Japanese people traditionally visit Shinto shrines on New Year’s Day, wishing for success and prosperity in the coming year. Hatsumode, or the first shrine visit for the year, often involves kimonos, buying amulets, giving donations and burning Christmas and New Year’s decorations in purifying fires. Predictably, popular places of worship can get extremely crowded, with millions flocking to shrines like Meiji Jingu over the first few days of January.
If you typically spend the first few days of the year not feeling up to scratch, there are some options later in the month. The famous Kanda Myojin Shrine in Chiyoda hosts the Daikoku Matsuri festival, where people from across the country come to pray to Daikokuten – the god of good harvest and marriage. Shinto dancers disguised as the diety spread good fortune, and worshippers who have recently “come of age” take part in a freezing water purification ceremony.
The festival runs over Saturday 13th and Sunday 14th of January.