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JANUARY 2017

(Please confirm information before you go at the phone numbers listed)


(*) covered events
1 Sun *National Holiday (New Year's Day)
    *Winter Peony Festival at Ueno Toshogu Shrine from January 1 through February 26
2 Mon National Holiday (Compt Holiday for Sunday Jan. 1)
    *Ippan Sanga 
    *Takagari Falconry at Hamarikyu Garden
    *Yumemakura at Tsumakoi Shrine in Kanda
    *New Year's Celebration Events at the Tokyo National Museum Jan. 2 and 3
3 Tue *Takagari Falconry at Hamarikyu Garden
    *New Year's Celebration Events at the Tokyo National Museum Jan. 2 and 3
4 Wed *Shigoto Hajime at Kanda Myojin
5 Thu *Kakizome
6 Fri *Dezome-Shiki at Tokyo Big Site
    *Hashigonori at Sensoji Temple
    *Dezuiri by Yokozuna at Meiji Shrine
7 Sat *Daikon Matsuri at Matsuchiyama Shoden Temple
    *Nanakusa at Mukojima Hyakkaen (Jan. 4-Jan. 7)
8 Sun *Tondo Yaki at Torigoe Shrine
    *Hatsu Yakushi at Arai Yakushi Temple
    *Kanchu Suiyoku at Teppozu Inari Shrine 
9 Mon *National Holiday (Coming of Age Day)
    *Genpuku Shiki at Meiji Jingu Shrine
    *Kagami Biraki at Budokan
10 Tue *Hatsu Konpira at Toranomon Konpiragu in Tokyo
11 Wed  
12 Thu  
13 Fri  
14 Sat  
15 Sun *Mochitsuki at Daita Hachiman Shrine
    *Unveiling of Enma at Shosenji Temple in Kitasenju
16 Mon *Unveiling of Enma at Shosenji Temple in Kitasenju
17 Tue  
18 Wed  
19 Thu *Kagura Hajime at Kanda Myojin Shrine
20 Fri  
21 Sat *Kanchu Misogi at Kanda Myojin Shrine
    *Daikoku Matsuri at Kanda Myojin Shrine Jan. 21 and 22
22 Sun *Daikoku Matsuri at Kanda Myojin Shrine Jan. 21 and 22
    *Manaita Biraki at Kanda Myojin
23 Mon  
24 Tue *Usokae at Kameido Tenjin Shrine
25 Wed *Usokae at Kameido Tenjin Shrine
26 Thu  
27 Fri  
28 Sat *Daruma Ichi at Takahata Fudo Hatsu Fudo Chigosan Parade at Takahata Fudo
    *Shunsetsu Chinese New Year Days in traditional Lunar Calendar Jan. 28 through Feb.12 at Yokohama Chinatown (Lion Dance by 5 teams all over Chinatown 3:30 p.m.-8 p.m. on Jan. 28)
29 Sun *Shunsetsu Chinese New Year Days in traditional Lunar Calendar. Dragon Dances, Lion Dance, Traditional Dances and Chinese Acrobats at Yamashita-cho Koen in Chinatown 3 times a day 2:30 p.m., 4 p.m. and 5:30 p.m.
30 Mon  
31 Tue  

New Year Days
Jan. 1,2 and 3
Meiji Shrine in Yoyogi, Shibuya-ku

Every year, the Meiji Shrine attracts the most visitors to come to to pray for the new year among all shrines and temples in Japan. In 2016, it was at 3.16 million during the first three days of the new year.

The shrine is dedicated to the memory of the Emperor Meiji and Empress Shoken. It was built in 1920. The shrine stands in beautiful surroundings of forests (170,000 trees of 245 species in 42 acres) while it is located in the midst of Tokyo.

Etiquette of shrine visiting: 1.Bow once when entering and leaving. 2. Rinse your left hand first and then right hand at the font. Rinse the dipper. 3. You may put some coins into the offertory box. Bow twice. Clap your hands twice. You may make a wish if you like. Bow once again.

URL: Meiji Jingu
Nearest Stn. Harajuku on JR Yamanote Line or Meiji Jingu-mae on Subway Chiyoda Line.
03-3379-5511
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New Year Days
Jan. 1,2 and 3
Yasukuni Shrine in Kudanshita, Chiyoda-ku

Yasukuni Shrine was founded in 1869 as a resting place for the souls of those who died in the wars. The shrine turns up controversies often by those who view the shrine as a symbol of Japan's militarism when Japanese politicians visit the shrine.

Being located in the center of Tokyo, Yasukuni Shrine attracts huge number of visitors during the new year days including the young generations who don't know wars. The shrine offers attractions of traditional performing arts and ancient martial arts from Jan. 1 to 3.

URL: Yasukuni Shrine
Access: Kudan-shita Stn on Subways Tozai Line and Hanzomon Line.
Telephone: 03-3261-8326
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New Year Days
Jan. 1,2 and 3
Sensoji Temple in Asakusa.

Visitors at shrines and temples during the New Year Days (Jan. 1 through 3) in 2016.

1. Meiji Jingu in Tokyo at 3.16 million
2. Naritasan in Chiba at 3.09 million
3. Kawasaki Daishi in Kawasaki at 3.07 million
4. Sensoji in Tokyo at 2.85 million
5. Tsurugaoka Hachiman in Kamakura at 2.50 million
6. Sumiyoshi Taisha in Osaka at 2.38 million
7. Atsuta Jingu in Aichi at 2.30 million
8. Hikawa Shrine in Saitama at 2.10 million
9. Dazaifu Temangu in Fukuoka at 2 million.
10. Ikuta Shrine in Kobe at 1.50 million
(data source - Jorudan)

URL: Sensoji
Address: 2-3-1 Asakusa, Taito-ku
Access: Asakusa Station on Subway Ginza Line, Metropolitan Subway Asakusa Line, Tsukuba Express and Tobu Isezaki Line.
Telephone: 03-3842-0181

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New Year Days
Jan. 1,2 and 3
Tomioka Hachiman Shrine in Fukagawa

Tomioka Hachiman Shrine is Tokyo's largest Hachiman shrine founded in 1627. Hachiman shrines which are found all over Japan worship the god of martial arts and war.

The shrine's summer festival is famous and it is counted as one of the three largest festival since the time of Edo period. Spectators splash water on the mikoshi bearers.

The shrine is also famous as a sumo shrine - the birthplace of sumo tournaments. Kanjin-sumo tournament began to be held at the shrine in 1684. Kanjin is raising money for buildings of shinto shrines and buddhist temples.

URL: http://www.tomiokahachimangu.or.jp/
Address: 1-20-3 Tomioka, Koto-ku
Access: Monzen Nakacho Station on Subway Tozai Line
Telephone: 03-3642-1315 (Tomioka Hachiman)
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New Year Days
Jan. 1,2 and 3
Narita-san Shinshoji Temple
Narita, Chiba Prefecture

Narita-san Shinshoji Temple of Shingon Sect Japanese buddhism is one of the most popular buddhism temples in Japan. Every year, visitors to the temple on new year days are ranked among the top three of the nation.

A long Omotesando (approach to the temple) is lined by numerous restaurants and stores selling traditional crafts, foods and souvenirs to pilgrims and tourists.

URL: Naritasan
Access: Narita Station on JR Sobu Line/ Keisei Narita Station on Keisei Line
Telephone: 0476-22-2111
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New Year Days
Jan. 1,2 and 3
Tsurugaoka Hachimangu in Kamakura

Visitors to Tsurugaoka Hachimangu in Kamakura ranked the 5th in the nation at 2.5 million in 2016. (1 Meiji Jingu, 2 Naritasan 3. Kawasaki Daishi 4 Sensoji Temple in Tokyo and 5 Tsurugaoka Hachiman in Kamakura).

Visits to shrines on the New Year Days are important in the life of Japanese people. It is called "Hatsu Mairi" First visit to the shrine in the year. The purpose is to pray for a bright and happy year.

At shrines, special charms to protect the happiness of worshippers are issued or sold such as "hamaya" (a sacred arrow which protects people from evil) and "omikuji" a slip of paper in which one's fortune is written.

URL: http://www.tsurugaoka-hachimangu.jp/
Access: Kamakura Station on JR Yokosuka Line.
Telephone: 0467-22-0315
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New Year Days
Jan. 1,2 and 3
Kawasaki Daishi Temple in Kawasaki, Kanagawa Prefecture

Kawasaki Daishi is a temple which worships Kobo Daishi (774-835). He was born in Shikoku and visited China@to study buddhism. He mastered Shingon Buddhism and after his return from China, he established and spread Shingon Sect Buddhism in Japan. Shingon and Tendai are two major esoteric buddhism forces.
Kawasaki Daishi is believed to be founded in 1127 by a samurai named Hirama Kanenori. The temple is counted as one of the three major temples of Chisan branch Shingon Buddhism in the district of Kanto. The other two are Shinshoji Temple in Narita and Yakuoin Temple in Takao. Every year, the temple is ranked among the top five most visited temples or shrines during the New Year days.

URL: Kawasaki Daishi
Address: 4-48 Daishi, Kawasaki-ku, Kawasaki City, Kanagawa Prefecture
Access: Kawasaki Daishi Station on Keikyu Daishi Line
Telephone: 044-266-3420
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New Year Days
Jan. 1,2 and 3
Kanda Myojin Shrine at Kanda

The shrine has been one of the most popular shrines in Tokyo since Edo days. The shrine is dedicated to Taira-no-Masakado, the 10th century rebel against the Imperial Court, who was finally defeated and beheaded.
He had a great following in Bando district (today's Kanto area) when he was in power, and after his death he came to be worshipped.

Kanda Shrine was first built in 730 AD in the fishing village of Shibazaki near today's Otemachi district. To accomodate the expansion of Edo Castle, the shrine was moved to the Kanda ward in 1603 and then moved to the present site in 1616.

URL: http://www.kandamyoujin.or.jp/
Access: Ochanomizu Station on JR Chuo-Sobu Line/ Ochanomizu Station on Subways Marunouchi Line and Chiyoda Line
Telephone: 03-3254-0753
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New Year Days
Jan. 1,2 and 3
Shibamata Taishakuten in Shibamata, Katsushika-ku

The temple was founded in 1629 under the auspices of the 19th head priest of Hokekyoji Temple in Shimofusa Nakayama.

Taishakuten is a Hindu god called Sakra devanam Indra who plays two major roles, one as king of the gods and lord of the Touriten where he lives on the summit of Mt. Sumeru and the other as protector of the Buddha, helping him in his practice in earlier lives and aiding him in his final life.

Taishakuten of Shibamata has become immensely popular by the "Torasan" movie series starring Kiyoshi Atsumi (1928-1996). The movies were so successful that the series continuted to 48 series from 1969 to 1995.

The area which became famous by the movie series brought prosperity to the shops which lead to the temple.

URL: http://www.taishakuten.or.jp/index2.html
Access: Shibamata Station on Keisei Kanamachi Line
Telephone: 03-3657-2886 (Taishakuten Temple)
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New Year Days at Zojoji Temple
Jan. 1,2 and 3
Zojoji Temple in Minato-ku

Zojoji is the temple of Jodo-shu (Pure Land Sect) buddhism which was founded by Honen (1130-1212). The temple was the family temple of the Tokugawa shogunate which ruled Japan during the Edo period (1603-1868). Unparallelled grand cathedral was built when Zojoji became the family temple of the Tokugawa family. The temple served as an administrative center to govern the religious studies and activities of Jodo sect. In those days, its precincts covered an area of 826,000 square meters and contained 48 smaller attached temples and 150 schools. However most of the buildings and facilities were burnt down by air raids during the W.W. II.
Today, the cathedral and other structures were rebuilt and Zojoji temple still serves as the main temple of Jodo sect buddhism.

"Sarumawashi" Monkey performances on Jan. 1,2 and 3.

URL: http://www.zojoji.or.jp/en/
Address: 4-7-35 Shiba Koen, Minato-ku
Access: Hamamatsu-cho Station on JR Yamanote Line
Telephone: 03-3432-1431
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New Year Days at Nishi Arai Daishi Temple
Jan. 1,2 and 3
Nishi Arai Daishi in Adachi-ku

Nishi Arai Daishi is a big temple of Shingon sect buddhism located in the eastern part of Tokyo in Adachi-ku. The temple attracts many believers in this commoners area of Tokyo.

Anyone who wants to strike the temple bell can join the event which continues from Joya no Kane at the turn of the year until Feb. 3 everyday at daytime.

URL: http://www.nishiaraidaishi.or.jp/
Access: Nishi Arai Daishi Station on Daishi Line (extension line from Nishi Arai Station of Tobu Isezaki Line)
Telephone: 03-3890-2345 (Nishi Arai Daishi)
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New Year Days
Jan. 1,2 and 3
Okunitama Shrine in Fuchu

Fuchu is a city located in the western suburbs of Tokyo. Okunitama shrine is one of the oldest and largest shrines in Kanto area where the major shinto god Okuninushi is worshipped as the guardian of Musashi-no-kuni (Kanto region).

The shrine's main hall faced south as many shrines are before but in 1051 the direction of the hall was turned to the north with the intention that the shrine's divine power could guard the imperial court from the threats of the north where the imperial power was not dominant.

URL: Okunitama Jinja
Access: Fuchu Station on Keio Line, Fuchu Honcho Station on JR Nanbu Line and JR Musashino Line.
Telephone: 042-362-2130 (Okunitama Jinja Shrine)
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New Year Days
Jan. 1,2 and 3
Hikawa Shrine in Omiya City, Saitama Prefecture

Visitors at the Omiya's Hikawa Shrine during the New Year's Days (Jan. 1 through 3) in 2016 was 8th in Japan at 2.10 million.

The city name of Omiya originated from the name "Omiya" which literally means "large shrine." As Musashi Ichi-no-miya, top ranking shrine in the Land of Musashi, it is a center of religious faith in the Kanto area and bustles with activity as crowds of people make their first visit of the year during the New Years holidays.

URL: http://musashiichinomiya-hikawa.or.jp/
Access: Omiya Station on JR Kehin Tohoku Line
Telephone: 048-641-0137
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New Year Days
Jan. 1,2 and 3
"Shibarare Jizo" Nanzoin Temple in Kanamachi, Katsushika-ku.

The stone statue of Jizo of the Nanzo-in Temple has nawa (coarse straw ropes) tied around its body. It is commonly called Shibarare-Jizo. The Jizo at this temple is said to grant all wishes, including protection from robbery, making someone stay or stay out with you, protecting you against evil, etc.

When you make a wish, you bind the Jizo with a rope. After your wish comes true, you untie the rope.
@All the ropes used tying the Jizo last year are ceremoniously burned on the last day of the year and the ritual is called "Otakiage."

URL: http://shibararejizo.or.jp/
Access: Take a bus for Togasaki Soshajo from South Exit of Kanamachi on JR Joban Line or Subway Chiyoda Line and get off at Shibarare Jizo.
03-3607-1758

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New Year Days
Jan. 1,2 and 3
Hie Shrine at Nagata-cho, Chiyoda-ku

Hie Shrine was designated as a First Class Government Shrine before the W.W. II and was a highly respected place of worship for the people of Tokyo.
In 1478, Ota Dokan constructed Edo Castle on the site of the present Imperial Palace. He also erected a Sanno-Hie Shrine in the compound of the castle as a guardian deity of the castle. The Shogun Ieyasu Tokugawa began ruling Japan from Edo Castle. He became a patron of the Hie Shrine and worshipped the deity as the protector of Edo. In 1607, the shrine was moved outside of Edo Castle to Hayabusa-cho, near the present Kokuritsu Gekijo National Theater. After it was destroyed by the fire in 1659, Shogun Ietsuna Tokugawa rebuilt the shrine at the present location. (from Hie Shrine website)

It is believed that the messenger of the shrine from God is Monkey. Monkey is known for strong love of babies and people visit the shrine praying for safe delivery of babies and wishing babies grow up in good health. This year is the year of monkey in zodiac calendar and many new year celebrants are visiting the shrine. A long escalator is equpped to the shrine located on a hill top.

URL: http://www.hiejinja.net/en/
Access: 8 minutes walk from Tameike Sanno Station and Akasakamitsuke Station on Subways Ginza Line/ 8 minutes walk from Akasaka Mitsuke Station on Marunouchi Line/ 5 minutes walk from Akasaka Station on subway Chiyoda Line
Telephone: 03-3581-2471
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New Year Days
Jan. 1,2 and 3
Ikegami Honmonji Temple at Ikegami, Ota-ku

Ikegami Honmonji is a temple of Nichiren sect of Japanese Buddhism and is the largest temple of the sect in Tokyo. The temple is also known as the place where Nichiren breathed his last.

Nichiren lived from 1222 to 1282. His idea about buddhism was unique in Japan. His attitude to life was aggressive. He fought against the then major buddhism forces by which people longed to escape from the troubles of the world. They sought deliverance through the Pure Land of Amida Buddha. To this, Nichiren insisted that there could be no elevation of the mind unless one attempted to attain Buddhahood through one's own efforts.

http://honmonji.jp/foreign/en.html
Address: 1-1-1 Ikegami, Ota-ku
Access: Ikegami Station on Tokyu Ikegami Line 10 minutes walk
Telephone: 03-3752-2331
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New Year's Celebration Events at the Tokyo National Museum

January 2: Taiko - Japanese Drum Performance in front of Honkan at 10:30 a.m./ Japanese Top Spinning Performance and Rakugo Comedic Storytelling at the Auditorium of Heiseikan at 11:10 a.m./ Shishimai - Lion Dance Performance in front of Honkan at 11:50 a.m./ Taiko - Japanese Drum Performance in front of Honkan at 1:10 p.m. in front of Honkan/Japanese Top Spinning Performance and Rakugo Comedic Storytelling at the Auditorium of Heiseikan at 1:50 p.m./ Shishimai in front of Honkan at 2:30 p.m./ Shishimai - Lion Dance performance in front of Honkan/ Opera Gala for the New Year in front of Honkan

January 3: Taiko - Japanese Drum Performance in front of Honkan at 10:30 a.m./ Japanese Top Spinning Performance and Rakugo Comedic Storytelling at the Lounge of Heiseikan at 11:10 a.m./ Shishimai - Lion Dance Performance in front of Honkan at 11:50 a.m./ Clarinet Concert at the Lounge of Heiseikan at 12:30 p.m./ Taiko - Japanese Drum Performance in front of Honkan at 1:10 p.m. in front of Honkan/Japanese Top Spinning Performance and Rakugo Comedic Storytelling at the Lounge of Heiseikan at 1:50 p.m./ Shishimai in front of Honkan at 2:30 p.m./ Clarinet Concert at the Lounge of Heiseikan at 3:10 p.m.

January 2-January 15
Ikebana Flower Arrangements by Prof. Nobu Kurashige Ikenobo at Main gate, Honkan


http://www.tnm.jp/?lang=en
Address: 13-9 Ueno Koen, Taito-ku
Access: Ueno Station on JR Yamanote Line/ Subway Ginza Line/ Subway Hibiya Line
Admission: 620 yen (Age 70 and above free)
Time: 9:30 a.m.-5 p.m. (closed Mon - if Monday is a holiday on Tuesday)(Dec. 24-Jan. 1 closed)
Telephone: 03-3822-1111
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Sumida River Shichifukujin Meguri
During the New Year season

Shichifukujin Meguri is visiting the temples and shrines of the Seven Deities of Good Fortune during the New Year season. The practice of making a "meguri" or pilgrimage to shrines and temples of all the Shichifukujin first became popular in Tokyo during the Edo period (1603-1868). Shichifukujin Meguri are still popular throughout Japan.

Introduced here is the one visiting temples and shrines located along the Sumida River on the other side of Asakusa across the Sumida River in Mukojima district.

The seven deities are from left Jurojin (the God of Longevity), Fukurokuju (the God of Wealth and Longevity), Daikoku (the God of Wealth), Bishamonten (the God of War and Treasure), Benten (the Goddess of Eloquence, Music and Art), Hotei (the God of Contentment) and Ebisu (the God of Shipping, Fishing and Commerce).

They are usually depicted ensconced in the treaure ship and the ship is suppposed to sail into port on New Year's Eve.
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Ippan Sanga
Jan. 2 (Mon)
Imperial Palace in Chiyoda-ku.

Every year, ‚m‚…‚— ‚x‚…‚‚’ congratulatory visit by the general public to the Imperial Palace is held on Jan. 2.

The Palace's main gate the Nijubashi Bridge (double bridge) is opened for this visit from 9:30 a.m. to 2:10 p.m. (last entry).

Emperor and the royal family appear on the balcony 5 times at 10:10 a.m., 11 a.m., 11:50 a.m., 1:30 p..m. and 2:30 p.m. to respond to the cheers of the crowd.

URL Imperial Household Agency
Access: Nijubashimae Station on Subway Chiyoda Line.
03-3213-1111
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Yumemakura
Jan. 2 (Mon)
Tsumakoi Shrine at Yushima, Bunkyo-ku.

The night of January 2 was an important day for Japanese people in the old days. It was believed people dream his or her first dream of the year and it reveals onefs fate for the year. In order to lure a lucky dream, one buys a set of good-luck papers of a treasure ship of "Seven Lucky Gods" and a picture of Japanese crane "tsuru" and a turtle "kame" both are believed to live thousands of years. If one sleeps with the paper under one's pillow on the night, he or she will have a lucky dream. .The prints are exclusive to this shrine and sold only on Jan. 1st and 2nd.

Access: Ochanomizu Station on JR Yamanote Line and Shin Ochanomizu on Subway Chiyoda Line.
The shrine is a very small and located in between Kanda Myojin Shrine and Yushima Tenjin Shrine.

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Takagari (Falconry)
Jan. 2 (Mon) and 3 (Tue) both days at 11 a.m. and 2 p.m.
Hamarikyu Garden, Minato-ku.

Hawking or falconry was a noble sport among samurai during the Tokugawa period (1603-1868). Tokugawa shoguns, feudal lords and many samurai kept hawks trained by special retainers. With the Meiji Restoration, the sport of hawking faded, as samurai lost their positions.

Pictures shown here are performed by the school of Suwa that has preserved the falconry techniques to today.

The typical Edo-period Japanese style garden Hamarikyu was owned by the Tokugawa shogunate and after the Meiji Restoration, the garden became the Hama Detached Palace for the imperial family and now is a metropolitan garden.

Closest Stn. Hamamatsucho or Shimbashi on JR Yamanote Line, 12 minutes walk.
Closed on Monday. Admission: 300 yen
Telephone: 03-3541-0200

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Hashigonori at Shibamata Taishakuten
Cancelled for this year
Taishakuten Temple in Katsushika-ku

Demonstrations of acrobatic performances on a bamboo ladder by tobi people (scaffoldmen) who preserve Japanese traditional firefighting techniques which date back to the Edo period (1600-1868). During the Edo period, tobi people were also firefighters.

URL: http://www.taishakuten.or.jp/index2.html
Access: Shibamata Station on Keisei Kanamachi Line
Telephone: 03-3657-2886 (Taishakuten Temple)
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Shigoto Hajime (First Business Day) Ceremony
Jan. 4 (Wed)
Kanda Myojin Shrine in Chiyoda-ku.

This year, Jan. 4 (Wed) is "Begin Work Day" for Japanese salaried men. They meet colleagues, bosses, clients for the first time in the year on this day.

According to the Japanese calendar, Jan. 4th is the day when government officials return to their work in the new year.

Kanda Myojin Shrine is regarded as the shrine of commerce. The shrine is sacred to Daikoku - one of the seven lucky gods which is believed to be a great luck-bringer. The Kanda Myojin being located near the business center of Tokyo, a large number of salaried men come to pray for a good business year on this day.

URL: http://www.kandamyoujin.or.jp/
Access: Ochanomizu on JR Chuo Line and Shin Ochanomizu on Subway Chiyoda Line.
03-3254-0753
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KAKIZOME
The first calligraphy of the Year
Jan. 5 (Thu), 9 a.m.-3 p.m.
Budokan Hall

In Japan, school students learn calligraphy at classes and practice writing auspicious kanji characters as well as hiragana (Japanese alphabet) using brushes and black ink. Every year on January 5, several thousand calligraphers mostly juniors gather at the Nippon Budokan in Tokyo for a kakizome - the first calligraphy of the year. They come from all over Japan mostly in groups accompanied by parents and school teachers.
Popular writings for this year were "Sheep" which is this year's animal in zodiac calendar and others "Omoiyari" - Compassion or Warm Heart, "Dream of Future," "New Mind" etc.

Admission: free
Access: Kudanshita Station on Subway Tozai Line
Telephone: 03-3216-5100
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Dezomeshiki (New Year's Fire Review)
Jan. 6 (Fri), 9:30 a.m.-12 noon
Tokyo Big Site (Kokusai Tenjijo) at Ariake, Koto-ku

Every year on Jan. 6, Tokyo Fire Department holds the New Year's fire review of all of their equipment, vehicles and techniques plus demonstrations of "hashigonori" acrobatic performances on a bamboo ladder by groups of tobi people (scaffoldmen) who preserve Japanese traditional firefighting techniques. These people were called "hikeshi" (fire extinguishers) during Edo period (1600-1868).

Japan's firemen and firewomen must play wider roles - firefighting, ambulances for sick calls, preventions and rescue operations for disasters including earthquakes, landslides, floods and so on.

Children are excited given chances of climbing on all different kinds of firefighting and rescue vehicles placed in a specially prepared hall at the site.

Access: Kokusai Tenjijo Station on Rinkai Line and Yurikamome Line.
Telephone: 03-3212-2111 (Tokyo Fire Department)
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Hashigonori at Asakusa
Jan. 6 (Fri), 1 p.m.
Sensoji Temple in Asakusa

Every year on Jan. 6, Edo Firefighting Memorial Association holds the New Year's demonstrations of "hashigonori" in the precincts of Sensoji Temple and Asakusa Shrine. The group comes to the Sensoji Temple after finishing the Dezomeshiki at Tokyo Big Sight in the morning.

Groups of tobi people (scaffoldmen) who preserve Japanese traditional firefighting techniques act acrobatic performances on a bamboo ladder. These people were called "hikeshi" (fire extinguishers) during Edo period (1600-1868).

URL: Sensoji
Address: 2-3-1 Asakusa, Taito-ku
Access: Asakusa Station on Subway Ginza Line, Metropolitan Subway Asakusa Line, Tsukuba Express and Tobu Isezaki Line.
Telephone: 03-3842-0181
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Dezuiri by Yokozuna
Jan. 7 (Sat) at 3 p.m.
Meiji Shrine in Shibuya-ku

Sumo is recognized as the national sport of Japan of very ancient origin. Records tell of a bout taking place as early 23 B.C. in the presence of Emperor of that time.

The ceremonial rendition of the Yokozuna dohyo-iri (ring-entering ritual) is offered to the shinto god by the grand champions in the presence of all the former top sumo wrestlers (oyakata) from 3 p.m. in front of the main hall of Meiji Shrine, Shibuya-ku.

URL: Meiji Jingu
Nearest Stn. Harajuku on JR Yamanote Line or Meiji Jingu-mae on Subway Chiyoda Line.
03-3379-5511

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Haru-no-Nanakusa (Seven Green Herbs of Spring)
Jan. 7 (Sat)
Mukojima Hyakka-en, Mukojima, Sumida-ku

The seven green herbs of spring (seri - a dropwort, nazuna - a shpherd's purse, gogyo - a cudweed, hakobera - a chickweed, hotokenoza - a henbit, suzuna - a turnip, suzushiro - a garden radish) are chopped up and put into rice gruel and served on the seventh day of the first month of the year as a charm against diseases. This custom remains in fashion for a considerable number of years and the herbs are called Haru-no-Nanakusa (Seven Herbs of Spring) to distinguish them from the Aki-no-Nanakusa (Seven Herbs of Autumn) which are selected for their flowers but not as food.

A basket of the seven green herbs of spring made at the Mukojima Hyakka-en is dedicated to the Imperial Court. every year.

Access: Higashi-Mukojima on Tobu Isezaki Line from Asakusa. 15 minutes walk. Closed on Mon. Admission: 150 yen.
Telephone: 03-3611-8705
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Daikon Matsuri (Radish Festival)
Jan. 7 (Sat), 11 a.m.
Matsuchiyama-shoden Temple, Asakusa, Taito-ku.

The temple is one of the subordinate temples of Sensoji Temple in Asakusa. It stands on a small hill along the west bank of the Sumida River.

Every year on January 7, the Daikon Matsuri (radish festival) is held and visitors are handed out boild daikon with a miso flavour.

Daikon and Kinchaku (pouch) are symbols of the shrine - each represents fertility and wealth.

URL: http://www.matsuchiyama.jp/english.html
Nearest Stn.: Asakusa on Subway Ginza Line.
Telephone: 03-3874-2030

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Tondo-Yaki
Jan. 8 (Sun) from 1 p.m.
Torigoe Shrine, Taito-ku.

Tondo-yaki is a fire festival where used new year ornaments such as shimekazari, shimenawa and other items are ceremoniously burnt in a big fire.

It is believed that if you eat mochi (rice cakes) baked on this fire, you will be in good health throughout the year.

Children hit grounds with bamboo sticks shouting "Tondo! Tondo!" to send moles out of the holes in the ground. signifying that this area was a farm land hundreds of years ago.

Address: 2-4-1 Torigoe, Taito-ku
Nearest Stn.: Asakusabashi on JR Sobu Line, 10 minutes walk.
Telephone: 03-3851-5033
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Hatsu Yakushi (The first fete day of the year)
Jan. 8 (Sun)
Arai Yakushi Temple in Arai, Nakano-ku


Fete days of Arai Yakushi Temple are on 8th, 18th and 28th of each month. Sacred fire is lighted on the days for invocation and to ward off evil fortune.

Arai Yakushi belongs to the Shingon sect of Japanese buddhism. The temple is dedicated to Yakushi Nyorai (the healing Buddha). Many temples in Japan which enshrine the healing Buddha is called Yakushi.

The formal name of the Arai Yakushi is Baishoin while it is popularly known as Arai Yakushi since it is located in Arai.

The temple became popular when prayer to the temple healed a serious eye disease of a daughter of the fifth Tokugawa shogun Ietada. Since then, Arai Yakushi has been believed by people as an eye curing temple.

Access: Arai Yakushi Stn. on Seibu Shinjuku Line
Telephone: 03-3386-1355 (Arai Yakushi Temple)
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Hatsu Konpira
Jan. 10 (Tue)
Toranomon Konpira-gu in Tokyo

Konpira-sama is a famous god of ships and voyages. There are many konpira shrines throughout the country. The central Konpira shrine is at Takamatsu (Sanuki Province) on the islands of Shikoku. Toranomon Konpira shrine was enshrined at this place in 1660 seperately from the main shrine in Shikoku. Toranomon Konpira-gu is located at an unusual place as a shrine between tall buildings in central Tokyo.
Parade of Shichifukujin will be two times from 11 a.m. and 2 p.m.

URL: Hatsu Konpira
Access: Toranomon Stn. on Subway Ginza Line
Telephone: 03-3501-9355
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Kanchu Misogi (Purification Rite in Midwinter)
Jan. 21 (Sat) at 10 a.m.
Kanda Myojin Shrine, Kanda, Chiyoda-ku

The central idea of Japan's shinto is "purification" and it is called "misogi." The cleansing rite is intended to remove defilement from a person who may have come into contact with anything unclean, from dirt to disease, or death.

The worshippers wearing only shorts or loincloths, after offering prayers and chants before the gods, douse bucketful ice cold water over themselves to purify their souls. Temperature outside is near freezing zero. The participants include many who turned the age of 20 this year including several women.

URL: http://www.kandamyoujin.or.jp/
Address: 2-16-2 Soto Kanda, Chiyoda-ku
Access: Ochanomizu Station on JR Chuo-Sobu Line, Subway Marunouchi Line, Subway Chiyoda Line
Telephone: 03-3254-0753 (Kanda Myojin Shrine)
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Daikoku Matsuri
Jan. 21 (Sat), 22 (Sun)
Kanda Myojin Shrine in Chiyoda-ku

Daikoku is one of the seven Gods of Luck. His Shinto name is O-Kuni-Nushi-no-Mikoto, or Divine Master of the Great Land and is a great luck-bringer (the god of wealth).

He hasa sack of precious things on his back and holds a hammer (a mallet of good luck) in his right hand.

URL: http://www.kandamyoujin.or.jp/
Address: 2-16-2 Soto Kanda, Chiyoda-ku
Access: Ochanomizu Station on JR Chuo-Sobu Line, Subway Marunouchi Line, Subway Chiyoda Line
Telephone: 03-3254-0753 (Kanda Myojin Shrine)
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Kagura Hajime (First Kagura of the Year)
Jan. 19 (Thu) at 3 p.m.
Kanda Myojin Shrine in Chiyoda-ku

Kagura means sacred dances which are performed at shrines on certain festivals.
The kagura is said to have originated when the Goddess Uzume danced, in order to lure the Sun Goddess from a cave in which she was hiding.

The kagura performed on this day at Kanda Myojin Shrine has been handed down generations from the Edo period.

URL: http://www.kandamyoujin.or.jp/
Address: 2-16-2 Soto Kanda, Chiyoda-ku
Access: Ochanomizu Station on JR Chuo-Sobu Line, Subway Marunouchi Line, Subway Chiyoda Line
Telephone: 03-3254-0753 (Kanda Myojin Shrine)
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Kanchu Suiyoku (midwinter-ice water bathing)
Jan. 8 (Sun) at 11 a.m.
Teppozu Inari Shrine, Chuo-ku

January is a time of ritual purifications in Japan. A shinto purification ceremonies of midwinter ice-water bathing take place at many shrines throughout the country to celebrate the New Year and it is also an occasion to prove one's manhood by enduring firigid temperatures. Men wearing only loincloths dip in freezing ice water and pray for good health for the new year.

URL: http://www.teppozujinja.or.jp/
Address: 1-6-7 Minato, Chuo-ku
Access: Hacchobori Station on Subway Hibiya Line and 10 minutes walk
Telephone: 03-3551-2647
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Kagami-Biraki
Jan. 9 (Mon) at 12 noon.
Budokan Hall
, Kudanshita, Chiyoda-ku.

Kagami-biraki means the ceremonial cutting and eating of Kagami mochi (mirror shaped mochi) which was offered to the Shinto god during the New Year.

Somehow, it has come to mean also the first training day of martial arts.  Various martial arts will be demonstrated from 1 p.m. followed after Kagami Biraki ritual at noon.

Nearest Stn. Kudanshita on Subway Tozai Line and Hanzomon Line. 03-3216-5100

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Genpuku-Shiki
Jan. 9 (Mon) at 10:30 a.m.
Meiji Jingu Shrine
in Shibuya-ku

Reenactment of coming-of-age ceremony in the ancient style by people of the Ogasawara school.  

In feudal times the most important event for the son of a samurai was Genpuku when he reached the age of fifteen and was considered to have become a man. It was on this occasion that he was first allowed to arrange his hair in samurai style to buckle on two swords and to be presented to the lord of his father. Thus he became a man and a warrior at the same time.

URL: Meiji Jingu
Nearest Stn. Harajuku on JR Yamanote Line and Meiji Jingu-mae on Subway Chiyoda Line.
Telephone: 03-3379-5511 (Meiji Jingu Shrine)

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"Seijin-no-Hi" (Coming-of-Age Day)
National Holiday
Jan. 9 (Mon), 11 a.m. (Adachi-ku Seijin Shiki) at Tokyo Budokan, Ayase, Adachi-ku

A coming-of-age ceremony has a long history in Japan. It was observed from at least the 7th century. During the Edo period it was an important event among the samurai class and the upper class of the society, in which a boy assumed adult clothing, hairstyle, and name.

Even today the concept of a formal coming-of-age ceremony continues in the natinal holiday as Coming-of-Age Day or Adulthood Day (Seijin no Hi). It is observed on the second Monday of January when young people reached their legal majority (20 years) in the past year. They visit shrines and temples and attend receptions held by local governments.

A set of beautiful kimono "furisode" (long sleeve kimono only dressed by unmarried women) costs more than one million yen (ten thousand dollars). In recent time, some rent the wearings yet cost it more than three hundred thousand yen.

Japan lowered voting age from 20 to 18 in 2016 and Coming of Age will also be lowered to 18 in the near future.

URL: Adachi-ku Seijin Shiki
Access: Ayase Station on JR Joban Line/ Subway Chiyoda Line
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Manaita-Biraki (Ritual of filleting a fish in the beginning of new year)
Jan. 22 (Sun) at 11:30 a.m.
Kanda Myojin Shrine in Chiyoda-ku

The Iemoto (head master) of "Shijo-ryu" a school of Japanese traditional cuisine, wearing an ancient cremonial costume and court headgear of nobility, prepares a big carp on the chopping block (manaita) and fillet the fish with only a knife and chopsticks. He does not touch the fish with his hands at all.

URL: http://www.kandamyoujin.or.jp/
Access: Ochanomizu on JR Chuo Line and Sobu Line, and Shin-Ochanomizu on Subway Chiyoda Line.
03-3254-0753

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Unveiling of Enma-sama
Jan. 15 (Sun) and 16 (Mon)
Shosenji Temple
at Kita Senju, Adachi-ku.

Fierce-looking Enma-sama or Enma-Daioh (Great King Enma) is the regent of Hell or the judge of after-world who passes judgement on all newcomers to hell deciding penalties fitting the crime. He is at the same time the keeper of those who are sent to Hades, and it is his task to torture all prisoners as punishment. Japanese children are told by their mothers that "If you tell a lie, Enma-sama will come and pull out your tongue."

Jan. 15 and July 16 are the only days in the whole year when Enma takes break from his duty. At Shosenji temple, they unveil the statue of Enma Daioh to public on Jan. 15,16 and July 15,16.

Address: 2-11 Senju, Adachi-ku
Access: Kita Senju Station on JR Joban Line and Subway Chiyoda Line
Telephone: 03-3881-2358
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Uso Kae no Shinji (Bullfinch Exchange)
Jan. 24 (Tue) and 25 (Wed.)
Kameido Tenjin Shrine, Koto-ku

Uso is the name of a bird (bullfinch) and homonymous with a Japanese word for lie. This association lead to a belief that by changing (buying) wooden carved bullfinch dolls, the bird changes uso or lies (bad things) into makoto or truth (good things) in the new year - cancelling the previous year's misfortunes to new year's good fortunes.

January 25th is the day of Hatsu Tenjin (the first fair of the year of the shrine). Ohayashi (shinto music) from 9 a.m., and Okagura (shinto dance) and Shishimai from around noon will be performed.

URL: http://kameidotenjin.or.jp/
Nearest Stn: Kameido on the JR Sobu Line. 15 minutes walk. from the station.
03-3681-0010
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Mochitsuki-kai
Jan. 15 (Sun), 1 p.m. to around 3 p.m. 3rd Sunday
Daita Hachiman Shrine, Setagaya-ku.

Mochi is a rice cake made of glutinous rice pounded into paste. Many are molded into cakes for later uses. Fresh ones are very delicious and served to the parishioners at the mochitsuki-kai.

Here, mochi is pounded by many people quickly and skillfully. This unique traditional way of mochitsuki is preserved by the local people of Daita in Setagaya.

The reason mochi is pounded at this time of the month late in January is according to the lunar calendar in which a new year comes on Jan. 31 this year.

Address: 3-57-1 Daita, Setagaya-ku
Nearest Stn: Setagaya-Daita on Inokashira Line. 5 minutes walk.
Telephone: 03-3414-5180 (Daita Hachiman Shrine)

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Daruma Ichi (Fair)
Jan. 28 (Sat) and Feb . 3 (Fri) Every year the same days of the months.
Takahata Fudoson Temple in Hino City

Daruma (Boddhidharma) is an Indian buddhist who went to China where he is said to have sat for nine years in meditation until losing his arms and legs.

At Takahata Fudoson, hundreds of stalls are set up selling daruma dolls from sunrise to sunset for people seeking good luck in the new year. A parade of children in fancy attire chigosan parade is scheduled from 2 p.m. on Jan. 28.

People paint in eyes of daruma black with a brush when his or her wish comes true.

A monthly fair is held on the 28th of each month and the one in January is called "hatsu-fudo" attracting many visitors.

URL: http://www.takahatafudoson.or.jp/
Address: 733 Takahata, Hino City
Nearest Stn: Takahata Fudo Station on Keio Line
Telephone: 042-591-0032

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HATSU FUDO at Takahata Fudo Temple
Jan. 28 (Sat) Every year the same day of January.
Takahata Fudoson Temple in Hino City

Takahata Fudo worships Fudo Myoo or Fudoson which is the wisdom king Acala Vidyaraja in Buddhism. The temple belongs to Chizan division of Shingon Sect and is counted among the Kanto region's three major Fudo-son Temple. It is believed the origin of the temple traces back to the early Heian period when the Emperor Seiwa commanded to place a Fudo Myoo (Acala Vidyaraja) to protect the district of eastern Kanto.

A Grand festival comes on the 28th of January as the first Fudo fair (Hatsu Fudo). Tens of thousand worshippers visit the temple on the day and many stalls are lined up in the precinct of the temple. Many are selling daruma dolls from sunrise to sunset for people seeking good luck in the new year. People paint in eyes of daruma black with a brush when his or her wish comes true. Dharuma (Boddhidharma) is an Indian buddhist who went to China where he is said to have sat for nine years in meditation until losing his arms and legs.

Chigosan Gyoretsu - A parade of children in fancy attires is scheduled from 2 p.m. on Jan. 28. Chigosan means divine children. They play an important role at events of temples and shrines. Ages must be under 8.

URL: http://www.takahatafudoson.or.jp/
Address: 733 Takahata, Hino City
Nearest Stn: Takahata Fudo Station on Keio Line
Telephone: 042-591-0032
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SHUNSETSU (Chinese New Year Days)
Jan. 28 through Feb. 12
Yokohama Chinatown. Shunsetsu means Spring Festival.

History of Chinatown in Yokohama begins with Japan's opening of Yokohama port to foreigners in 1859. Today it is the largest Chinatown in Japan. Every year about 18 million tourists visit the town. Streets and tangled alleys include more than 200 restaurants and over 300 shops which market Chinese products - clothes, decorations, accessories, silk works, interiors, herbs, furniture, antiques, etc. The center of the town is Kantei-byo a shrine dedicated to Guan Yu, a warlord and guardian deity of Chinatown.

Jan. 28 (Sat) Lion Dances all over Chinatown on Jan. 28 (Sat) from 3:30 p.m.-8 p.m.

The celebrations including dragon dances, lion dances, traditional music and dances of China, acrobatics will be performed at Yamashita-cho Koen inside the Chinatown on Jan. 29 (Sun) and Feb. 5 (Sun) (three times a day 14:30-15:30, 16:00-17:00 and 17:30-18:30).

The highlight of the festivity comes on Saturday Feb. 5 from 3:30 p.m. A fantastic parade of people in traditional wardlobes accompanied by dragon dances and lion dances will be held along the main streets of the Chinatown.

URL: Chinatown Shunsetsu
Access: Ishikawacho Station on JR Keihin Tohoku Line.
Telephone: 045-662-1252
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Winter Peonies Festival
Jan. 1 (Fri) through February 26
Ueno Toshogu Shrine in Taito-ku

The Botan (Peony Flower) Garden at Ueno Toshogu Shrine is famous for its Kan-botan (winter peonies). Though the peonies put flowers usually in early May, the Japanese loved this plant so much that they developed the unusual, winter-flowering kan-botan (winter peonies).

About 600 peony bushes including 40 varieties open their colorful blossoms under a protective straw shade.

URL: http://www.uenotoshogu.com/
Nearest Stn.: JR Ueno on Yamanote Line. 5 minutes walk from Ueno Dobutsuen (Ueno Zoo) Exit.
Admission: 600 yen
Telephone: 03-3822-3575 (Toshogu Peony Garden)/ 03-3822-3455 (Ueno Toshogu Shrine)

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