Japan Shrines Seeing Much Less New Year Visitors

Society

Tokyo, Jan. 2 (Jiji Press)--Shinto shrines across Japan are seeing the number of people making New Year's visits fall substantially compared with usual years, as many of them refrained from accepting visitors through overnight hours and took other coronavirus countermeasures.

Meiji Jingu, a major Shinto shrine in Tokyo's Shibuya Ward, which had some 3.18 million visitors over the first three days of last year, did not accept overnight visits through New Year's Day this year and placed markings on the ground for social distancing.

"We thought we might have more visitors as many people canceled their trips to their hometowns" and chose to stay in the Tokyo area during this winter holiday period, said Atsunori Mizutani, 62, a "negi" senior priest at Meiji Jingu. "But it turned out that we're having less than a half of visitors compared with last year."

Shops that used to open within the premises of Meiji Jingu to offer food and drinks to people making New Year's visits were all gone this year.

For Makiko Kuroki, 73, and her husband, Tetsunori, 70, from Kawasaki, Kanagawa Prefecture, south of Tokyo, it had become customary to enjoy "omiki" sacred sake and "oden" traditional Japanese stew at Meiji Jingu when they make New Year's visits to the shrine. But Makiko said, with a regretful look on her face, that the couple could not do that this year.

[Copyright The Jiji Press, Ltd.]

Jiji Press