NOTE: This event has been canceled due to no cormorants were able to be caught for the ritual.
It is customary to learn your fortune for the new year by purchasing omikuji (paper fortunes) from your local shrine. Before you do, though, it may be worth checking out the Keta Grand Shrine in Hakui, Ishikawa Prefecture, which will hold a cormorant festival, known as Umatsuri.
The ceremony will begin around 3 a.m. on Dec. 16 when Shinto priests walk into the shrine's main building, carrying a cormorant in a basket. The sacred bird will be let loose after several rites, and next year's fortune will be told judging from the moves it makes. The ritual will conclude at Ichinomiya Beach where the bird will be released into the sky. (Yuki Yamauchi)