If you are in Tokyo during new year holidays (Jan 1-3), experience “Hatsumode”, the first visit to shrine or temple!
Japanese have a tradition to visit shrines or temples during new year holidays, January 1-3 but typically on January 1, to wish for luck, health, success, or peace in the new year, or share their commitment to a New Year’s resolution. It is widely common to visit shrines or temples at midnight right after the year changed (for most popular shrines or temples, people even start to line up from early at night!). Some people are dressed up in beautiful Kimono when they visit shrines or temples. It is one of the few occasions in the year to see such number of people dressed in Kimono in the city.
Here are the best and recommended 10 spots that are popular to locals. Join the crowd and wish all the happiness towards the new year like a local!
The shrine is always popular as an attraction both for tourists and locals, but Meiji Shrine is probably the most crowded Hatsumode destination in Tokyo and might be in all Japan. It is said that more than 3 million visitors come to Meiji Shrine for Hatsumode. During new year holidays, Harajuku Station uses the extra platform to accept the enormous number of visitors. Meiji Shrine finishes accepting visitors around 5:00 PM usually, but on New Year’s Eve, they accept visitors for all night. If you want to see how common Hatsumode is like, Meiji Shrine is the place to visit and be aware of the unbelievable crowds!
Address: 1-1 Yoyogikamizonocho, Shibuya-ku, Tokyo
Access: 5 minutes walk from Harajuku Station
2. Sensoji Temple
Another popular attraction all the time, Sensoji Temple, is also a popular destination for Hatsumode. It is said that 2.9 million people visit Sensoji Temple for Hatsumode every year. At midnight on New Year’s Eve, monks ring “Joya No Kane” (bells ringing out the old year). Visit Sensoji by midnight to not miss the sound of the bell. Special “Ofuda” (charm) will be sold from Jan 1 to Jan 7.
Nakamise Dori Shopping Street to Sensoji Temple will be decorated with special new year decorations.
Address: 2-3-1 Asakusa Taito-ku, Tokyo
Access: 5 minutes walk from Asakusa Station
3. Yasukuni Shrine
Yasukuni Shrine is much less crowded comparing to Meiji Shrine and Sensoji Temple, as there are usually about 250,000 visitors every year. Yasukuni Shrine also accepts visitors all night on New Year’s Eve. Yasukuni Shrine gets festive during new years. For example, a huge “Ema” , wooden tablet, and Japanese kites will be displayed. There will be performances at the path to shrine or stage for Noh performance near the main building. Also, various sake barrels and Ema plates will be displayed, and Japanese swords will be out for the public to view.
Address: 3 Chome-1-1 Kudankita, Chiyoda-ku, Tokyo
Access: 5 minutes walk from Kudanshita Station or 10 minutes walk from Ichigaya Station
4. Tokyo Daijingu
Tokyo Daijingu is a very traditional shrine as it is the branch of famous Ise Shrine in Mie Prefecture. It is said to be the founder shrine of the wedding ceremony in Japan. Mini wooden plate “Ema” with the drawing of the zodiac will be distributed to 1,000 first come visitors who purchased charms, etc., from January 1-3. Also, Oshiruko, sweet red bean soup with mochi, will be distributed to visitors for free!
Address: 2 Chome-4-1 Fujimi, Chiyoda-ku, Tokyo
Access: 5 minutes walk from Iidashi Station
5. Hie Shrine
Hie Shrine is a beautiful red painted shrine in Akasaka. Their building is extremely beautiful and they have hundreds of red torii, like a min-version of Fushimi Inari Shrine in Kyoto.
They have the official promotion video for Hatsumode 2017:
On New Year’s Day, they accept visitors from midnight. There will be a performance of Miko from January 1-3, for those of people purchased Ninuriya (arrow).
Address: 2 Chome-10-5 Nagatacho, Chiyoda-ku, Tokyo
Access: 3 minutes walk from Akasaka Station
6. Zojoji Temple
Zojoji temple is a popular shrine as it is at the foot of Tokyo Tower. Zojoji Temple accepts visitors to ring Joya No Kane. If you wish to participate in, purchase the ticket for ¥2,000 at 9:00 PM. It comes with a present! Zojoji Temple gets festive from New Year’s Eve to Jan 3, with street food strolls.
Address: 4 Chome-7-35 Shibakoen, Minato-ku, Tokyo
Access: 3 minutes walk from Onarimon Station or Shibakoen Station
7. Ikegami Honmonji Temple
Ikegami Honmonji Temple is another popular sight for Hatsumode, as they are one of the few temples which accepts visitors to ring Joya No Kane. The ticket will be distributed from 11:00 PM and first 600 people get the opportunity. It is notable that the buildings of Ikegami Honmonji Temples are mostly Important Cultural Property.
Address: 1 Chome-1-1 Ikegami, Ota-ku, Tokyo
Access: 10 minutes walk from Ikegami Station
8. Meguro Fudoson Ryusen-ji Temple
Meguro Fudoson is a famous temple to purchase New Year’s “Daruma” dolls, and there are about 120,000 visitors during New Years. There will be food strolls to enjoy some snacks.
Website: http://park6.wakwak.com/~megurofudou/index.html (Japanese Only)
Address: 3 Chome-20-26 Shimomeguro, Meguro-ku, Tokyo
Access: 15 minutes walk from Fudomae Station or 20 minutes walk from Meguro Station
9. Takaosan Yakuoin Temple
How about a little getaway from crowded Tokyo? Mt. Takao is famous as one of the closest hiking destinations from central Tokyo, and there is a temple at the top of Mt. Takao. As Mt. Takao and the temple Takaosan Yakuoin Temple are closely associated with tengu, there will be lots of tengu charms and products limitedly sold during new years.
Mt. Takao is also a popular destination to view “Hatsuhinode”, the first sunrise of the year.
Address: 2177 Takao-machi, Hachioji City, Tokyo
Access: 20 minutes walk from either cable car or lift Sanjo Station. (Ride on cable car or lift from Takaosanguchi Station, or hike for about an hour)
10. Naritasan Shinshoji Temple
Naritasan Shinshoji Temple is not in Tokyo exactly, but it is the second popular destination for Hatsumode, following Meiji Shrine, accepting more than 3 million visitors. They have multiple temple buildings, each having a different kind of blessings. Naritasan is famous for eels, so get some eel rice bowl, “Unaju”, if you have a chance to visit the area.
Naritasan Shinshoji Temple is located in Narita, which is just 8 minutes by train from Narita Airport.
Address: 1 Narita, Chiba Prefecture, Japan
Access: 10 minutes walk from Narita Station
Please refer to the official announcements for the latest information.