Japanese mark new year with shrine visits and sunrise viewing


Millions on Japanese ushered in the new year early Monday by visiting shrines, as well as going to vantage spots to watch the first sunrise (hatsuhinode) of 2018.

The big shrines were packed as usual just after midnight and again during the day. Meiji Shrine in Tokyo, in particular, welcomes a huge wave of worshippers each year on Jan 1.

People offer prayers at Meiji Shrine on Monday. Photo: REUTERS/Toru Hanai

Officials at the gigantic shrine said Sunday they expected three million visitors in the first three days of the new year. Smaller neighborhood shrines throughout the country also received a steady stream of visitors.

People watch the first sunrise of the year at a beach near Tokyo. Photo: REUTERS/Toru Hanai

Seeing the first sunrise of the year has become a ritual in Japan. Despite an overcast day and a high of only 5 degrees in Tokyo on Sunday, the skies were blue and the temperature rose to 12 degrees in the capital Monday morning, providing spectacular views of the dawn from Tokyo Skytree, Tokyo Tower and several beaches in the Kanto region.

For those wanting a different view, this year, low cost carrier Solaseed Air offered a round-trip flight from Tokyo to Miyazaki for 160 people. Passengers on the special first sunrise flight gathered at Haneda Airport in Tokyo at around 4:40 a.m. The flight left just before sunrise. It returned to Tokyo just after 3 p.m.

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Let us hope, that the New Year would bring peace and harmony instead of violence and killings in the name of religion, hope instead of despair due to political situations and uncertainties in many parts of the world. What we need today is neither political giants nor moral dwarfs. We need wise men with vision and hope to give it to the people

6 ( +6 / -0 )

Happy New Year to everyone too (although I want to get through 2018 first!)

2 ( +3 / -1 )

Happy New Year Japan...from the U.K.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Japanese mark new year with shrine visits and sunrise viewing

Hmm. That's a switch.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

Happy New Year, peeps! May 2028 find you safe, healthy, and happy!

1 ( +6 / -5 )

Happy new year to one and all, I pray for every ones health and safety. Does any one have an update on the little buy who went missing the other week in Fukui ?

1 ( +1 / -0 )

They also watched telly quite a lot.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

Three million people in three days, at Meiji Shrine? I've been there when it seemed rather busy, but can't imagine a million people in one day.

It will be a good year, people. And I hope that those of you who have a habit of posting somewhat nasty comments can put a little levity into it. We who read JT (at least from my perspective) should do what we can to put a little kindness and considerate thought into our musings.

So, kampai!

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

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