Hatsumode: Every Shrine in Kyoto (& Japan)
Hatsumode or First Visit of Year is the tradition where people visit and pray at a shrine for the first time of the year. Depending on the shrine, the believed benefit is slightly different. For example, when it comes to academic-related wishes, Kitano Tenmangu is always recommended. For business, Yasaka Shrine and Fushimi Inari Shrine are popular. However, these places will be packed with tens of thousands of people. As for this event, please read Three Most Popular Spots in Kyoto For New Year Holidays and Spots Open During New Year Holidays in Kyoto. Heian Jingu, which is also crowded, has a special Noh-play (Japanese traditional theater wearing masks) event for free. 12:30 on January 1st.
Lucky Bags: Many Stores in Kyoto (& Japan)
Many stores will prepare special lucky bags for customers during New Year’s Holiday, especially from January 1st to 3rd. The bags includes various unknown goods, and they are fun to open. Usually the price for the bag is less than the total price of the goods inside. These bags are very popular, so if this sounds attractive, go to the stores before noon. Note that many stores will be closed on January 1st.
Tea Kettle Collection by Expert Onishi Seiwemon
Kyoto and traditional tea ceremonies have been teamed up for a long time. And there are families who have been making special tea tools just as long. Onishi Family is one of them and has been making iron tea kettles for 400 years. Seiwemon is the name of the family head, and has been passed down since their fourth generation. A museum called [Eki] inside Isetan department store (7th floor) will display some historical kettles made by the Onishi Family. Isetan is connected to JR Kyoto Station. For people who are interested in Japanese traditional tea culture, this might be a perfect spot to visit. 10:00 – 20:00 (17:00 on 15th). January 2nd – 15th.
Kemari is a traditional ball game using legs and feet. It is not like a soccer. A group of players basically keep kicking a ball into the air without dropping it. They wear traditional clothes. Because of Hatsumode, this can be a good opportunity to visit Shimogamo Shrine. It is free, but to get a good view, it is better to visit early. From 13:30. January 4th.