It’s January 4th, our first day back in the office now after entering the Year of the Snake. I hope you all had a warm New Year’s celebration with friends and family.
I spent mine visiting Itoigawa’s main shrine, Amatsu Shrine for hatsumoude.
Amatsu Shrine in Central Itoigawa
Hatsumoude translates literally to ‘first pilgrimage.’ It is the Japanese tradition of visiting a shrine or temple during the New Year’s celebration to pray for health and good fortune. Despite its small population, Itoigawa has many shrines and temples which people visit for their first pilgrimage of the New Year. Amatsu Shrine, located near Itoigawa Station and Itoigawa City Hall, is probably one of the most popular shrines in the Itoigawa area.
Visitors to Amatsu Shrine purchase protective charms and talismans
An important part of hatsumoude for many Japanese is the purchase of good luck charms and protective talismans. From small satchel-like charms to large goshinya or ‘god arrows’, these objects are said to protect the owner from ill fortune and bring good fortune and health.
Visitors buy snacks from kiosks at Amatsu Shrine
For many an equally (if not more!) important part of the hatsumoude experience are these kiosks which sell various snack foods from takoyaki (octopus dumplings) to crepes. It’s certainly my favorite part!
However you celebrated your New Year’s, all of us here at the Itoigawa Global Geopark wish you the best of health and fortune in 2013 and look forward to seeing you soon!