In Japan, every year starts with a visit to the shrine, in order to get some blessings, buy some lucky charms, or ask what the future might have for you. As per my own little tradition, I headed as usual to the Hie Jinja not far from where I live and work, which hopefully will bring me good luck for the year to come.
Expect to see a lot of people queuing at the most popular shrines during the new year period.
After having prayed, write your wish for the year on a Ema (wooden tablet). As you can see on these Ema, 2018 is the year of the Dog.
Probably the part that Japanese people are looking forward the most is to get their fortune for the year to come be told by an omikuji (fortune-telling paper strip). There are various degrees of luck ranging from great blessing to great curse (although I feel like most of the time you can summarize the message by “work hard if you want to succeed”), but no panic if you had an unlucky pick: just attach it with the other bad fortunes on the shrine ground, and you will be protected from the bad omen.
You can also get a Hamaya (an arrow that will protect you from evil spirits) and get it blessed by a Miko (shrine maiden).
Before you leave, sip a cup of sake, and why not get something to eat from the various stalls around the shrine ground.
And as usual, eating some special new year’s food in the evening to finish the first day of the year:
I hope you all had a good time over the holiday period, and wish you all a happy 2018 🙂