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Best Shrines For Hatsumode in Japan

Our choices for the top Shinto shrines to ring in the New Year in Japan.

By 4 min read

If you find yourself in Japan over the New Year, there’s no better way to celebrate oshogatsu (Japanese New Year) than with a trip to a Shinto shrine or Buddhist temple. Known in Japanese as hatsumode, this first shrine or temple visit is a time to pray for good luck and prosperity for the coming year. Most locals go within the first three days—or even at midnight on December 31—so it may be crowded, but that’s all part of the cultural experience.

Here are our picks for the best Shinto shrines to visit for hatsumode. Spread out around the country, there’s sure to be one close to you.

Meiji Jingu (Tokyo)

Photo:
Just don’t be surprised if there’s a big crowd.

Every year, more than three million people visit Meiji Jingu for hatsumode. The largest shrine in Tokyo it occupies a major plot of land right next to Harajuku Station. It’s a lovely locale and the perfect way to ring in the new year. Just don’t be surprised if there’s a big crowd.

1-1 Yoyogikamizonocho, Shibuya City, Tokyo - Map
Nearest train station: Harajuku station

Tsurugaoka Hachimangu (Kanagawa)

Photo:
The perfect place to pray for prosperity in Kanagawa Prefecture.

Originally built in 1603, this culturally important shrine in the coastal town of Kamakura is the perfect place to pray for prosperity in Kanagawa Prefecture. With its many calming Zen temples, Kamakura may be quaint and relaxing. However, Tsurugaoka Hachimangu Shrine is incredibly popular as a hatsumode spot so be sure and plan your time accordingly.

2-1-31 Yukinoshita, Kamakura, Kanagawa - Map
Nearest train station: Kamakura station

Ise Jingu (Mie)

Photo:
The most important shrine in Japan.

Ise Jingu is the most important shrine in Japan. Venerating Amaterasu, the Sun Goddess, you can bet that it’s a popular place for the first shrine visit of the year. If you make the trek out to Ise in Mie Prefecture, be sure to arrive bright and early to see the sunrise from the entrance of the shrine. If you’re stuck in Tokyo and can’t make it all the way to Ise, visit Tokyo Dai Jingu, the capital branch of Ise Jingu, instead.

1 Ujitachicho, Ise, Mie - Map
Nearest train station: Ujiyamada station
Nearest bus stop: Uratacho or Jingu kaikan-mae

Atsuta Jingu (Aichi)

Photo:
A sacred shrine in central Japan.

Of the three sacred treasures given by the Sun Goddess to the first emperor of Japan, one, the sword, is housed at Atsuta Jingu. This makes this Nagoya shrine incredibly sacred—and incredibly popular. This is doubly true during the New Year period when people from all over central Japan descend on the shrine.

1-1-1 Jingu, Atsuta Ward, Nagoya, Aichi - Map
Nearest train stations: Atsuta station, Atsuta Jingu Nishi station, Jingu-Mae station

Fushimi Inari Taisha (Kyoto)

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Don’t miss out on visiting Fushimi Inari.

The vermillion tunnels of torii gates are not only a symbol of Fushimi Inari Taisha in Kyoto, but they’ve become one for the whole country. That puts this shrine complex at the top of most foreign tourists’ Japan bucket list. For Kyoto locals, it’s the place to ask for prosperity in business and agriculture for the coming year. Everyone should visit Fushimi Inari Shrine at least once in their lives. Going during New Year will ensure that it’s also a once-in-a-lifetime experience.

68 Fukakusa Yabunouchicho, Fushimi Ward, Kyoto - Map
Nearest station: Inari station

Sumiyoshi Taisha (Osaka)

Photo:
Head to a nearby food stall after you visit this shrine.

If you’re in Osaka rather than Kyoto, head to Sumiyoshi Taisha. The headquarters of the more than 2000 affiliated shrines in the country, Sumiyoshi Taisha is the place to be during New Year’s in Osaka, with tens of thousands of visitors paying their respects. Make it a true Osaka experience by chowing down on some local food from the many yatai, or food stalls that appear during the period.

2-9-89 Sumiyoshi, Sumiyoshi Ward, Osaka - Map
Nearest train stations: Sumiyoshitaisha station, Sumiyoshi-Higashi station

Itsukushima Jinja (Hiroshima)

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Start the New Year at this breathtaking shrine.

Itsukushima Jinja is one of the most beautiful locations in all of Japan. With its iconic floating torii and Hiroshima island location, this shrine is a picture-perfect place for the first shrine visit of the year. Note that along with the 300 yen shrine entrance fee, there is now an additional 100 yen charge to enter Miyajima Island.

1-1 Miyajimacho, Hatsukaichi, Hiroshima - Map
Nearest train station: Hiroden-Miyajimaguchi

Izumo Taisha (Shimane)

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Make a day of visiting all the other shrines in Izumo.

The Sea of Japan side of Honshu is much less visited than the Pacific Ocean side, making a hatsumode trip to Izumo Taisha attractive. Located in Shimane Prefecture just east of Matsue, Izumo Taisha is known as the realm of the gods, and there is a palpable spiritual power there. The city of Izumo also has many other shrines worth visiting, so stay a few days and soak up the atmosphere.

195 Taishacho Kizukihigashi, Izumo, Shimane - Map
Nearest train station: Izumotaisha-Mae station

Dazaifu Tenmangu (Fukuoka)

Photo:
A quick getaway from central Fukuoka.

There’s a shrine for everything, from love to fishing and everything in between. If you’ve got a big test coming in the new year, visit Dazaifu Tenmangu in the lovely little town of Dazaifu just outside Fukuoka. Enshrining the god of scholarship, Sugawara no Michizane, it’s big with students. Don’t forget to stop at the gorgeous Starbucks along the main approach.

4-7-1 Saifu, Dazaifu, Fukuoka - Map
Nearest train station: Dazaifu station
Nearest bus stop: Dazaifu

Hokkaido Jingu (Hokkaido)

Photo:
Bundle up and take in the views.

When the chimes ring out, heralding the new year, Sapporo residents head to Hokkaido Jingu. Located in Maruyama Park and enshrining the Meiji Emperor (among other gods), Hokkaido Jingu sees more than 800,000 people visit during the first three days of January. Dress warmly, as Sapporo is bound to be cold, although freshly fallen snow blanketing the shrine and grounds will only add to the mystique and reverence.

474 Miyagaoka, Chuo Ward, Sapporo, Hokkaido - Map
Nearest train station: Maruyama Koen station
Nearest bus stop: Maruyama Daiichi Torii
What shrine do you recommend visiting during the New Year period? Tell us in the comments.

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