Wishing for a good start to the New Year, many in Japan visit temples, shrines

The Yomiuri Shimbun
People gather to make their New Year’s visit to Sensoji, a temple in Taito Ward, Tokyo, early on Sunday morning.

Crowds eager for blessings on the first day of 2023 flocked to temples and shrines across Japan from the wee hours of the morning on Sunday.

As the world welcomes a third New Year’s Day since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, living with the novel coronavirus has become more routine.

At Sensoji, the famed temple in the Asakusa district of Tokyo, a huge crowd thronged the grounds and flowed all the way outside Kaminarimon, the main gate usually decorated with a large red lantern. The temple said it expects to receive over 2.5 million people across the first three days of this year.

An office worker in his 30s from Yokohama had waited in line to pray at the temple since New Year’s Eve.

“I hope war and the pandemic will end soon,” he said regarding his wishes for the New Year.

Although coronavirus infections continue to spread during the eighth wave of the pandemic, many people are expected to make the traditional first visit of the year to temples and shrines this week.