Other than Hatsuuri「初売り」, first thing to be done on a new year is always usually known as Hatsu-Something. Hatsu mean first in Japanese. So the first prayer at a shrine or temple is known as Hastsumode 「初詣」.
It is believed that going for Hatsumode is very lucky and will cleanse away the bad luck from the previous year and start a new year with better luck.
Japanese will visit the Shrine or temple to pray for good luck and buy lucky charm or items such as omamori, or any auspicious items. At the same time, old and used lucky items such as omamori are returned to the shrine for them to be disposed in a proper way.
During this period, most popular shrine and temple will be packed with believers going to pray for a smooth sailing and a lucky year ahead. If you happen to be in Japan during the New Year period, maybe you could participate and enjoy it.
How to pray
This may vary with different shrine/temple. So if you are unsure, maybe you can follow the Japanese in front of you.
- Ring the bell twice.
- Toss you donation into the offering box. (Usually we use coins)
- Bow twice
- Clap your hand twice
- Make your prayer
- Bow once
Other than praying, maybe you want to try your luck to have your fortune told by drawing a stick or paper. You can also buy omamori for good luck and protection too.
We hope you could enjoy a memorable trip in Japan during the New Year.