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Here are some links that may come in handy when you want to reminisce or revisit Japan. They are basic information about day-to-day life in Japan, public transport, housing, hospitals, culture/sports/art, tourism/events and other aspects of Japan. We will keep posting more information to fulfill your interest. On the bulletin board, please feel free to contribute additional tips, how-to's, or your personal experiences which may help other members!

January in Japan-New Year-Related Festivities

What to do on Dec. 31 and new year break? Venturing out to the year’s first visit to the shrine or hatsu-mode would be the answer because most temples and shrines all over Japan are open late into the night on December 31. Public transportation will also extend service hours at night. Some people go to see the first sunrise in the mountains, while others prefer to stay out on new year’s eve, and go directly to the shrine at midnight. If you are traveling around Japan at this time, some facilities (museums, shops, or restaurants) may close or finish up early. During hatsu-mode, you may see visitors throwing something in the fire. As a service, shrines offer to burn old omamori (lucky charms) from the previous year, before you buy new ones. Usually, the power of omamori only last for one year. Small omamori can be kept in your bag, while bigger ones like the hamaya spears are for displaying inside the home to ward off evil. Although all shrines will bring you luck, some shrines ensure academic accomplishment, harvest, vehicle safety, and many different aspects of life. It may be fun to find out each shrine’s specialty.

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Hatsumode at Hokkaido Jingu Shrine

About 700 thousand worshippers show up at this shrine due to its accessibility from inner Sapporo. Besides, winter sports, you can go to the Maruyama Zoo, or enjoy fascinating nightscape from the Moiwayama Ropeway and enjoy the Sapporo jogai-ichiba seafood market.

Date: Jan. 1-3 or until mid-January
Place: 474 Miyagaoka, Chuo-ku, Sapporo-shi, 064-8505 Hokkaido
Access: 15-min walk from Maruyama Koen station on subway Tozai Line

Hatsumode at Shiogama Shrine (Miyagi)

This shrine is said to attract about 450 thousand visitors during new year. It is one of the most popular shrines in the Tohoku region, easily accessible from Sendai and scenic Matsushima. One of the enshrined gods is in charge of the sea and salt. The shrine ensures good harvest and safe sea voyage.

Date: Jan. 1-3 or until mid-January
Place: 1-1 Ichimoriyama, Shiogama-shi, 985-8510 Miyagi-ken
Access: 15-minute walk from Hon Shiogama station on JR Sengoku Line (5-min by taxi)

Nanakusa Hitaki-Matsuri at Atago Shrine (Tokyo)

Experience a quiet break from all the celebration. Rice simmered with 7 traditional herbs make a soothing porridge called nanakusa-kayu. All the herbs have properties to heal your digestive system that went through episodes of overeating! Atago Shrine is also known as the guardian for one’s promotion. See the link for how you can pray for your career at this shrine!

Date: January 7, 2018 11:00am-
Place: 1-5-3 Atago, Minato-ku, 105-0002 Tokyo
Access: 5-minute walk from Kamiyacho station on subway Hibiya Line.

Saitansai new year prayer at Fushimi Inari (Kyoto)

One of the most authentic shrines known for their thousand Torii gates. There are many shrines named after Inari, the god of rice, harvest and business prosperity. “Ine” means rice plant in Japanese. The bundle of rice plant engraved on Japan’s 5 yen coin can be traced back to the crest of this shrine. You can also enjoy the serene nature of the surrounding mountain.

Date: January 1, 2018 6:00am
Place: 68 Fukakusa, Yabunouchi-cho, Fushimi-ku, 612-0882 Kyoto
Access: Get off at Inari station on JR Nara Line.

Uso-kae Ritual and Onisube Fire Festival at Dazaifu Tenmangu (Fukuoka)

By participating in Uso-kae, any lies you said in 2017 would be cancelled out! In Tokyo, you may experience Uso-kae in Kameido-Tenjin and Yushima-Tenjin, too. Onisube is held after the Uso-kae. It is a spectacular “fire fight” between the Oni (demon) and the guardians. Sacred purified fire is lit up during the ritual to drive away the Oni. Dazaifu Tenmangu is also a famous shrine to pray for exam success!

Date: Jan 7, 2018 18:00
Place: 4-7-1 Saifu, Dazaifu-shi, 818-0117 Fukuoka-ken
Access: 10 min walk from Dazaifu station on Nishitetsu Dazaifu Line