Side Quest: Hatsumode

We are three days into 2016, which means it’s about time to make our shrine visit for the new year. If we wait any longer, then our laziness could turn into a year of misfortune.


Since we are official Tokyo residents this year, now’s a good time to visit Meiji Shrine.


We quickly find the end of the line, which is just before the first turn into the shrine complex.


Stacks of sake barrels decorate the grounds. In Japan, sake bring gods and people closer together. That’s true on many levels, especially if you drink a whole barrel by yourself.


Event coordinators set up a large video screen before the final turn towards the shrine. The constant loop of ads and shrine related information may or may not help with boredom.


A wall of company-sponsored lanterns flank the right side of the queue.


After an hour or so we round the last corner and start our approach to the shrine.


You can’t see them, but at this point event staff roped us off into groups to practice some crowd control.


Finally, our rope group makes it into the shrine. Everyone chucks coins onto the large sheets laid out in front of the steps, making it easier to collect all that money.


The exit leads to booths were we can buy our new year’s charms.


And of course we have to grab a new year’s fortune as well.

I always enjoy the annual first shrine visit. The event brings everyone in Japan together with their collective wishes for the next 365 days. That’s a great way to kick off the new year.