Happy New Year!

Just got back from Nezu Shrine, and despite living here for several years, it’s my first time to do a hatsumoude (初詣) on the very first day of the year.

Ironically, I should really be staying at home but I thought that if I got there early, I’d be at the front of the line and that I could leave immediately.

To make it a bit more special, I opted to go 45 minutes before midnight, and found hardly anyone at the shrine. Only the officers from the nearby fire station were there to make their rounds.

Nezu Shrine at Bunkyo-ku; it’s one of the oldest shrines in Tokyo

No market stalls this year, though my ears perked up when I heard the guy from the fire department mention that there would be a stall selling baby castella.

Some people were waiting by the gates to the main hall so I opted to go there as well and wait for my turn, as I had nothing else to do.

By 12 midnight, they opened the gates and let us in by twos. Took me a few minutes to do my prayers before I headed off to the area where they sold some hamaya (破魔矢; lit. evil-piercing arrow) and omamori (お守り).

As I did not want to walk home (it would take me an hour of walking to go back to my place), I ran back to the nearest train station and made it in time for the last train.

With that said and done, I’ve completed yet another activity on my ‘to-do’ list, which is to visit and pray at a shrine on New Year’s Day.

Items I got at Nezu Shrine:

Sakura-motif omamori
Tsukinami Hanafuda (月次花札)

Unique to Nezu Shrine, the tsukinami hanafuda is an amulet that one can put in their house to ward off the evil spirit/s. Unlike an omamori that needs to be replaced every year, one can keep their tsukinami hanafuda around and get a new one. There are a total of 13 types of hanafuda sold by the shrine.

Usually, the hanafuda sold in the sales area correspond to the month it is being sold; for tonight, however, the shrine was selling all 13 types. As my birth month corresponds to December, I got the tsubaki (camellia) fuda.

Last but not least:

Hamaya (破魔矢)

The ema attached to this particular hamaya happened to be an akabeko (赤べこ), which drew me. I ended up getting one to replace last year’s hamaya.

Here’s to a brighter and more amazing 2021!

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