New Year Day @ Zenkō-ji

On the afternoon of New Year’s Day, Mum & I agreed that we were in need of some fresh air, therefore, we donned warm clothing and sauntered to Zenkō-ji.
On the way, I saw a pair of huge trees standing, assisted by steel supports at Yubuku Shrine. Mum explained to me how the trees were struck by lightning one summer and the impact was felt even by her at home 10 minutes walk away from the shrine. The trees had to be trimmed in order to make them safe. Just imagining from the size of the remaining trunks, they must have been gigantic trees…


We arrived at Zenkō-ji and found the promenade choking with worshippers…


The orderly crowd was waiting in queue to enter Hondō shrine. However the queue was stretched as far as Sanmon Gate and beyond…


Within the temple compound, kiosks selling talismans and fortune slips were everywhere…


They came in various forms. Arrows for warding off evil spirit and bamboo rakes for gathering fortune…


The staffs seemed very busy, being called up from all directions…


Next to the kiosk, I came across this dog looking thoroughly bored. He / she stood there with the air of resignation while its owners hotly disputing what charm they should buy in order to improve fortune this year…


The area around the promenade closer to Hondō shrine was all blocked off as a part of crowd managements. So we were forced to walk around the boundary and join the Sando Promenade at the intersection…


Though not as packed as around Hondō, the pavement was brimful of visitors…


“Goheimochi” on sale…


Goheimochi is made of mashed steamed sticky rice and miso paste. Mashed and hand-formed rice is skewered with a bamboo stick and grilled over the flame. Once cooked, sweetened miso paste is spread over the rice ball lollipop and sold as Japanese street food.
Mum & I wanted to try them but there was a long queue in front of the shop front so we gave up and walked on.

A couple in kimono…


We reached Niōmon Gate and found crowds of people still pouring in towards Hondō…


We realised that there would be no chance of finding any cafe for a mid-afternoon snack. So we headed back home.
On our way home, we came across this sight…


A row of cars were queuing for a pay car park near the temple. How long did they would have to wait in their cars, we had no idea. From the amount of the visitors we saw at the temple, they would probably have to wait more than an hour. We hoped if they could make it to Hondō before it closed at 5 pm…

Kaori by Kaori Okumura

4 thoughts on “New Year Day @ Zenkō-ji

  1. Haha great dog photo! I bought some charms at a temple right as it was closing so I didn’t have time to figure out what exactly they are for– I’ll have to send you some photos! I wanted to get a fortune but I didn’t see English translations at the places I went– and I hear if you get a bad one you are supposed to leave it behind? My worst fear was accidentally bringing a bad one home!

    • There are so many charms on sale at Japanese shrines & temples, aren’t they? One for family prosperity, fertility, academic success, safe driving, quick recovery from illness/injury, romance, etc… Yes, send me the pic and I will tell you what the charm is for. There is no bad charm as such in the Japamese custom. So you have nothing to worry about 😉 x

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