In Japan, one of the most important times of the year is the Japanese New Year, or Shogatsu. This holiday period lasts from December 29th to January 4th, with January 1st being the most important day. On this day, most families get together and visit while eating and drinking. They often go to a temple or shrine to pray and wish for a good new year, often getting their fortune (omikuji) or charms. Children receive money from relatives, which I guess is kind of like my usual Christmas. People usually eat osechi, which is Japanese traditional New Year’s food. I’m not particularly fond of it, though. Extremely bland for the most part, and my wife doesn’t seem to like much of it, either.
However, this year’s New Year for us was nothing like last year’s. Last year, we visited my wife’s family. This year, due to the baby’s incorrect positioning and a visit to the clinic on January 1st, we went with shrines and temples. We visited a lot of them! For this post, I’m going to show you January 1st’s temple and shrine visits near our home. Parts 2-5 will feature the four places we visited in Kamakura on January 3rd.
We first visited a small temple near the Hikichigawa river called Jishouin (自性院). It was very quiet, with us being the only people there. We didn’t stay long, but I took a few pictures.
This is the entrance to Jishouin.
On the right side, we see this.
Here's the main temple building. It's not impressively large, and doesn't seem busy at all.
Another temple building.
I guess we were somewhat disappointed. We’d heard a bell ringing, so we thought this was the place, but while we were there, we heard the bell again. We saw where it was coming from, across the river and up the hill. So, we went to a shrine that we had no idea was even there! Nice surprise! What we found was Sawa Daimyoujin (佐波大明神). There were people there! We even bought a couple of fortunes (omikuji). Mine was just okay. Anyway, here are the pictures.
This is the entrance and torii to Sawa Daimyoujin. Plenty of lanterns were hanging for the New Year.
A closer look at the torii.
That's the main shrine building.
Getting a bit closer. It's open for the New Year's prayers.
After praying at the shrine, people were ringing this large bell. Wish I'd tried it.
These lights have been at many shrines during the New Year holidays.
That’s it for part 1. Coming soon is part 2 of this Oshogatsu series.