Thank you for joining the Tokyo Free Walking Tour.
December 3rd had a fairly pleasant weather and moderate temperature.
We welcomed around 15 guests coming from different corners of the world — USA, Germany, China, Australia and Singapore.
This is the fourth tour in the locations of Meiji Jingu and Takeshita Street, which is still held on trial basis.
We, from the Tokyo Walking Tour, greatly appreciate your attendance, which is steadily increasing in number.
Majestically nested in an evergreen forest and enclosed by fresh air, the Meiji Jingu or Meiji Shrine is one of the most notable shrines in the city of Tokyo.
Although it is easily accessible from Tokyo’s busiest districts like Shinjuku and Shibuya, this location remains as a truly peaceful and sacred place of worship.
However, during the month of December, the otherwise serene Meiji Jingu transforms into a busy area, as it is the season to prepare in welcoming visitors for Hatsumode.
Hatsumode literally means “the first visit to a Buddhist temple or Shinto Shrine in the first few days of the new year”.
It is a tradition among Japanese people to visit these religious buildings and to pray to deities in hopes of good health, happiness and good fortune in the new year.
In observance of Hatsumode, devotees give money offerings, buy good luck charms and draw written oracles.
There’s a great possibility that there will be an influx of visitors during this coming new year holidays.
According to a survey among guests and pilgrims that visit this holy area, this shrine is among the top 10 must-visit religious places in Tokyo.
Normally, around 3 million people come and worship in the Meiji Shinto Shrine during New Year’s season alone.
There are many people who visit and stay in the shrine compound on the eve of January 1st, New Year’s Day, as they want to welcome and experience the New Year on the Shrine grounds.
During these occasions, not surprisingly, a great number of passengers get off the nearby Harajyuku station and walk towards the Meiji Shinto Shrine.
When midnight of December 31st comes, this holy ground is guaranteed to be extremely overcrowded with shrine guests and devotees.
Eventually, at around 12 AM, television broadcasts will start to cover and air the atmosphere inside the sanctuary as people are waiting for the New Year.
These news coverages will last until the entire first day of the new year, where media reporters would interview people inside the compound.
In the celebration of this occasion, the Meiji Shinto shrine has certainly served a very special purpose to the devotees and guests in giving them hope for the New Year.