Hatsumode (はつもうで): Gosha Jinja (五社神社) & Kamoe Kannon (鴨江観音)

Last year and the year before I spent my winter holiday in Japan and experienced the many traditions that come with celebrating New Year in Japan. One that I particularly like is “hatsumode” (はつもうで), which is the first shrine visit of the year. Actually, some people prefer to go to temples, and I decided to go to both. This winter holiday I went home to England, and when I got back I felt this strange urge to do “hatsumode”. I’m not religious or anything, but it just seems like the best time to visit a shrine and make a wish for a good year.

I racked my brains all week to think of where I could go, and finally came across this useful list of shrines and temples in Hamamatsu. I checked on Google Maps and decided to go to Gosha Jinja (五社神社) and Kamoe Kannon (鴨江観音). I realised that I had actually been to Gosha Jinja before, without knowing the name, but I had never been to Kamoe Kannon.  Both were within easy walking distance of my apartment and, although it was very windy and a bit cold, it wasn’t a bad day for a walk.

First I arrived at Gosha Jinja:

Gosha Jinja (五社神社)

I was happy to see that the shrine was still in full New Year mode. You can see some New Year’s decorations by the foot of the Torii. These are called “kadomatsu“.

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Wishes on trees...

People tie their “omikuji” to trees around the shrine, and someone had left this little fellow hanging there too.

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Gosha Jinja (五社神社)

Everyone was out for “hatsumode” – the old and the young.

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Gosha Jinja (五社神社)

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Kimono girl

I couldn’t resist snapping this beautiful girl in her kimono as she was posing. It’s quite likely that she was dressed up for her “Coming of Age” ceremony. “Coming of Age Day” is tomorrow, and I saw a lot of young ladies out and about in kimonos today.

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Ema

These are called “ema“. People write their prayers or wishes on them.

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Ema

“Ema” come in various designs. Each shrine has its own design, and there are also special designs for New Year, bearing the animal of the year from the Chinese zodiac. This year is the year of the rabbit, or “usagi” (うさぎ) in Japanese.

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Gosha Jinja (五社神社)

You can throw money into this box and make a prayer or wish.

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Gosha Jinja (五社神社)

This is where you can buy “omamori“, or “good luck charms”.

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Omikuji

And this is where you can buy “omikuji“, or “fortunes”.

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Wishes on trees

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After visiting Gosha Jinja I walked to Kamoe Kannon.  On the way, I came across this wonderfully strange house:

Wild house

When I reached Kamoe Kannon (which is really close to Gosha Jinja, by the way), I couldn’t believe I had lived in Hamamatsu for nearly nine months and not visited before! It’s so close to town and exactly the kind of place I love to visit. I was thrilled to discover it. 😀

First, before I spotted the temple itself, I spotted the neighbouring elementary school (I think!) which seemed to be designed to blend in with the temple.

Not Kamoe Kannon (鴨江観音)... This is actually the school nextdoor, I think!

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Just across the street was the temple entrance:

Kamoe Kannon (鴨江観音)

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New Year's decoration

By the entrance to the temple there were more “kadomatsu”.

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Kamoe Kannon (鴨江観音)

By the entrance to a temple there are usually these guardians. They always look really scary.

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Kamoe Kannon (鴨江観音)

I’m not sure exactly what this is, but I had a little peek inside and it seemed to be full of very tiny shrines or monuments. I think it had something to do with family graves. Some people were getting something from inside and doing something with the display below. I don’t know much about burial traditions in Japan, but I think people are usually cremated, so perhaps ashes are kept in here. I’m only guessing though!

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Kamoe Kannon (鴨江観音)

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Kamoe Kannon (鴨江観音)

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Kamoe Kannon (鴨江観音)

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Kamoe Kannon (鴨江観音)

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Ema & Omikuji

There were “ema” and “omikuji” at the temple, too.

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Ema

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Kamoe Kannon (鴨江観音)

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Kamoe Kannon (鴨江観音)

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Kamoe Kannon (鴨江観音)

This Buddha statue seems quite unusual, but I like its position.

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Kamoe Kannon (鴨江観音)

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Kamoe Kannon (鴨江観音)

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Kamoe Kannon (鴨江観音)

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Watering the Buddha...

I watched these kids with their family. They appeared to be giving a water offering to the Buddha statue.

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Kamoe Kannon (鴨江観音)

This is the main temple building.

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Kamoe Kannon (鴨江観音)

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Paper cranes

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Kamoe Kannon (鴨江観音)

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Kamoe Kannon (鴨江観音)

I wandered around the back of the temple and discovered that it was really old at the back.

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Act Tower, Gosha Shrine & a Hamamatsu bus

On the way home, I got this shot of Act Tower (the symbol of Hamamatsu) with Gosha Jinja and a Hamamatsu bus. I liked the contrast.

Hamamatsu is known as the “windy city” and today really proved that to be true. I felt quite windswept by the time I came home, but good for having had a walk and made my wishes for the coming year.

One of my other motives for going out for a wander was that I got a lovely new camera for Christmas and really wanted an excuse to try it out a bit. Naturally, I took a lot of photos. If you want to see the whole collection please check out Flickr. After I finished uploading the best shots I noticed that I had accidentally uploaded 111 photos. This wasn’t intentional at all, but I felt it was a nice nod to the new year: 2011.

Finally, this is my entry for this week’s Show Me Japan. Don’t forget to take a peek at all the other entries! 🙂

6 thoughts on “Hatsumode (はつもうで): Gosha Jinja (五社神社) & Kamoe Kannon (鴨江観音)

  1. You appear to have a lot of fun playing with a new camera. Your adventure of exploring the shrine and the temple could reveal everlasting customs in Japan.
    The Buddha statue you thought unusual is called “Miroku Bosatsu (弥勒菩薩). Ultra super famous statues of Miroku Bosatsu can be seen at Ko-ryu ji (広隆寺) in Kyoto.
    Thanks for showing us Japan!!!

    Like

  2. A very in-depth report! You always do such a good job of showing Japan 🙂
    I liked the house, it looked like it had a face full of personality.
    Our shrine visit wasn’t as eventful as yours. But I did see that someone threw an entire wallet as donation. LOL!

    Like

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