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People Flock to Temples, Shrines for First Visit of 2024; Sensoji Crowds Return after Pandemic Restrictions Lifted

The Yomiuri Shimbun
Crowds of people are seen at Sensoji temple in Taito Ward, Tokyo just after midnight on Monday.

Monday marked the first New Year’s Day since all restrictions related to the COVID-19 pandemic were lifted, and temples and shrines across Japan were crowded with worshippers who had come to make their first visit of the year — a tradition called hatsumode.

At Sensoji temple in Taito Ward, Tokyo, the street leading from the Kaminarimon gate to the main hall was crowded with worshippers and foreign tourists. A 22-year-old office worker from Koto Ward, Tokyo, who had been standing in line since Sunday night, said, “Now that the COVID pandemic is over, I want to actively challenge myself in various things this year.”

Before the pandemic, nearly 3 million visitors would flock to Sensoji temple during the first three days of the year, and a large crowd is expected for this year’s hatsumode as well.