A good 2016 ahead, 10 steps for hatsumode on January the 1st !

Happy new year to everyone! To those who are travelling in Japan, are you going for hatsumode? From the 1st to the 7th of January, this is the hatsumode period for the Japanese, you can visit the famous shrines and ask for good luck. Today I am here to introduce you to – The 10 steps of hatsumode, follow these steps and ask for a blessed year! hatsu2
  1. Pay respect to the Torii鳥居

If you pay attention to it, you will see most of the Japanese would bow once at the Torii, to show their respect before entering the area.
  1. Chozuya 手水舍

Washing yourself before praying is a way of showing your respect to the god. Do you know the correct way to do it? hatsu6
  1. Hand:Hold the ladle with your right hand and clean your left hand. Next, hold the ladle with your left hand and clean your right hand.
  2. Mouth:After washing your hands, hold the ladle with your right hand again, and pour some water in your left hand, use the water to rinse your mouth.
After rinsing your mouth, clean your left hand again, and place the ladle to its original place.
  1. Return last year’s omamori 御守


If you bought any omamori from the shrine, you have to return it this year. Most shrines have a counter to collect the omamori, and there are also some people who would burn it at the stove. Usually the shrine will burn the omamori from the past years as a cleansing process.

The counter is usually located at the front of the mall hall, it is best to return the omamori before doing the main prayer.
  1. Pray at the main hall

hatsu4 The most important prayer is done in the mall hall. First, stand in front of the deity, throw a few coins into the wooden box and ring the bell, and stand up straight again.   Remember the 2-2-1 formula: : Bow twice: Bow at 90 degrees, and repeat for the second time Clap twice: Clap your hand twice in front of your chest Bow once: Bow at 90 degrees again
  1. Buy a hamaya 破魔矢


Hamaya(破魔矢) is a sacred bow, it is believed that it will bring protection against the forces of evil, and for purification, it is like a protection charms. If there is a new born baby boy in the house, traditionally, he will be given Hama Yumi for protection; while for baby girl, she should be gifted with ahagoita(羽子板), however it is rarity now.

  1. Draw a fortune slip


After you finish with the prayers, most of the visitor will draw a fortune slip in the main hall. However, there is no fortune teller to explain the fortune slip for you, hence; you have to fine the meaning by yourself.

Most Japanese would bring the good luck fortune slip home, for those bad luck slip, just tie the slip and tuck it to the rack in the shrine, it is not advisable to bring the bad luck home.
  1. Make a wish using Ema (繪馬) and purchase a omamori for the coming year (御守)


Ema is the small wooden plaques on where the worshippers write their prayers or wishes, it is sold in most of the shrines. Ema are sold in cute designs too, it can be use as decoration piece too.

  1. Drink a cup of Amazake 甘酒


This is my personal recommendation; try it out if you see amazake selling in the shrine. Last year hatsumode was too cold, the shrine I went to visit was near Mount Fuji, I was shivering, a colleague of mine brought me some hot Amazake. It is a traditional sweet, low or non-alcohol Japanese drink which is made from fermented rice.

  1. Pay respect to the Torii 鳥居

After finishing the process, you will be passing the Torii again, turn to the Torii to make a final bow, it also means that you are leaving.
  1. Go home straight

Most of the people would go for fukubukuro shopping (especially Japanese) before heading home. According to a myth, you could lose some of your good luck, hence it is best to bring all the good luck straight to home after prayers.  

These are the recommended steps, but there is no strict rules that you need to follow. In different shrines, they practice different process or believes, as long as youhave good intentions, everything will be good. I wish everyone has a great year ahead!