In Japan, the first temple or shrine visit of the year, called hatsumōde, usually takes place on January 1st, 2nd, or 3rd. Travelers to Japan are likely familiar with ema, which are the wooden plaques on which visitors write prayers or wishes to be left hanging at the shrine. But for the new year, some of these shrines display large ema, adorned with a design of the new year’s Chinese zodiac animal, a system that is also used in Japan. The unveiling of the new large ema at various shrines is an exciting affair, and this upcoming year, the year of the rabbit, is no different.
Ikuta Shrine, Kobe City
Ikuta Shrine, one of the oldest shrines in Japan, is situated in the center of Kobe City’s hustle and bustle. Despite this, the shrine is a peaceful spot that many visit for various holidays.
For the upcoming year, Ikuta Shrine has unveiled an especially cute ema with several bunnies on it. As ema designs usually lean towards a more traditional look, this unique design with lifelike bunnies has been capturing the hearts of many this season.
Mikata Shrine, Shiso City
Mikata Shrine is located in the small city of Shiso, most known for its forestry and agriculture. Built in 1527, it is the only building in Shiso City designated as a National Important Cultural Property.
Sticking with a more traditional design, Mikata Shrine has begun displaying their large ema featuring two rabbits. The shrine's chief priest, Mr. Chiaki Shindo, said, “I hope for people to, like a rabbit, leap energetically and have a healthy year.”
When people visit temples or shrines for the first time in the new year, they often wish for happiness. We at the Hyogo Business & Cultural Center would like to wish all of you a happy holiday season, as well as good health and happiness in the new year!
Hyogo Prefecture is easily reachable from Osaka and Kyoto by JR train. The Hyogo Tourism Bureau provides more detailed information about traveling to and within the prefecture.
Please email us at email@example.com if you have any questions about Hyogo Prefecture or the Kansai region.