National

Best wishes and prayers for the new year

Staff report

Major shrines and temples nationwide were packed Wednesday morning as people made “hatsumode” (first visit of a place of worship) to pray for good fortune in the coming year.

At the renowned Yushima Tenjin Shrine in Tokyo’s Bunkyo Ward, thousands of visitors, including many women clad in traditional kimono, proceeded toward the main shrine building to make “saisen” monetary offerings.

As Yushima Tenjin is dedicated to the god of learning and popular as a shrine for students seeking academic achievements, many of the visitors were high school and college students who will be taking entrance examinations over the next few months.

Major hatsumode destinations, including Meiji Shrine in Tokyo’s Shibuya Ward, Sensoji Temple in Tokyo’s Asakusa district and Fushimi Inari Taisha Shrine in Kyoto, are traditionally thronged with visitors during the first three days of the new year.

Regarding saisen monetary offerings, most people usually throw coins into huge wooden boxes set up in front of the main building but some contribute ¥1,000 bills and even ¥10,000 bills to make big wishes.

The total saisen intake during the first several days of this year is expected to exceed the previous year’s amount at many shrines and temples, as people in some business sectors are profiting from the “Abenomics” economic policy instigated by Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.

The Abe administration has been pumping ample liquidity into financial markets and drive the yen down to spur the export-oriented industries. As a result, employees at large manufacturers and related sectors have enjoyed economic benefits over the previous year.