'Hatsumode' means the first visit to a shrine/temple in a new year. In Kyoto, the famous Fushimi Inari and Kiyomizu temple are the top destination. For the Japanese, it's very sacred to welcome a New Year. We clean all over the house, decorate the front door with ear of rice and tangerine, some pine trees so that Gods will stop by and join a celebration, and we cook a huge amount of dishes in order not to work for a few days.
About half an hour before midnight, temples start to ring their bells for 108 times. 108 is the number of greed in Buddhism. One bell rings, one greed goes away.., then 108th, you are purified and ready to welcome a new year.
We say 'Akemashite Omedeto-gozaimasu' Happy New Year in Japanese, as a greeting when you meet people for the first time in the new year until 15th January. So we are still in celebrating time!
We visit temples and shrines to greet Buddha/Gods to ask for their protection for the year. Best on the 1st January but as soon as possible. Unfortunately, I was super busy and finally, on the 9th day, had a chance to pay a visit. At midnight.
This is how to pray at a shrine.
1. Two bows (show respect)
2. Two claps (saying 'hey God, please listen to me!)
3. Silently pray (they understand any language, but say it simply)
4. One bow (thank God for listening to you)
What was your New Year resolutions? We look forward to seeing you at Camellia!