As our reporter came to investigate about this year changes for the new year festival, the staff was in the middle of replacing a large Shimenawa with a new one.
A Shimenawa is a big rope used to cordon off consecrated areas and/or as a talisman against evil.
Every year, from December 25th to 26th, the members of the Shimenawa Preservation Society replace the large Shimenawa tied to the torii gates to welcome the new year.
This is not everyday that you get to see the new year preparation of a sacred place, our writer was happy to see this and believes that 2021 will be a good year!
■You can get a Goshuin (scarlet seal stamp) and an Ema (a handmade votive tablet).
A shuin (or Goshuin) is a seal stamp given to worshippers and visitors to Shinto shrines and Buddhist temples in Japan. The seal stamps are often collected in books. They are made by people who work at the temples. To create the shuin, the writer presses down one or more large stamps, and then uses black ink to write, in his distinctive calligraphy, the name of the temple, the day of the visit, and other messages on and around the stamped portions.
Ema are small wooden plaques, common to Japan, in which Shinto and Buddhist worshippers write prayers or wishes. The ema are left hanging up at the shrine, where the kami (spirits or gods) are believed to receive them. They often carry images or are shaped like animals, or symbols from the zodiac, Shinto, or the particular shrine or temple.
This year, as a measure against corona, events like amazake during New Year are canceled.
After paying your homages , if you go to pick up a fortune you can also get a red stamp (Goshuin) and a handmade votive tablet for 500 yen.
You can choose the handmade votive tablets you want, each one have different facial expressions.
Address: Kamikawa-gun Kamikawa-chō Kitamachi 2-banchi
Parking Lot: Yes
The first stair have nearly 50 steps.
From what we heard, there is 100 steps in total, don’t you think it's perfect for exercising after the New Year?
It was cold but since the stairs weren’t covered with it was easy to climb.
The next stair is about 23 steps.
100 steps until we reach the main shrine.
The snow was clean and most of it has been cleared.
It is quite physical though.
Aibetsu Shrine January 2, 2021
We have finally arrived at the main shrine.
This visit was made with ski poles !
Most of the stairs have handrails, but be sure to bring your gloves.
Don't you think it's a good exercise after the New Years festivities ?
People who are going for a diet as a new year resolution, this is for you!
Address: 348 Kitamachi, Aibetsu-cho, Kamikawa-gun
Parking lot: Yes
The vermilion torii in the white winter scenery in simply perfect.
A parking lot was located next to the shrine office. But our reporter did not know that and parked her car a bit further. Thanks to that, she got to walk through this beautiful torii gate.
When you reach the inner part, turn right and you will see the main shrine.
Pippu Shrine January 2, 2021
The shrine office is at the right of the main shrine.
It's a shrine that looks great in the white winter scenery.
This shrine is for people who wants to take it easy and enjoy the scenery.
■A shrine in Hokkaido that goes around with the red stamp
In the “Hokkaido’s 70 shrines guide," published by the Hokkaido Shinbun Press, it is introduced as a flower shrine.
Every year, the chief priest plants hydrangeas and peonies.
If you like flowers, we recommend you to come when they bloom.
You may want to call the shrine beforehand to confirm the flower season if you want to see a specific flower.
Since our writer hasn’t ever been to the Bippu shrine, she had to check the location beforehand.
To do so, she went to the shrine once the 29th.
Luckily the chief priest came and wrote her a scarlet stamp (Goshuin). Since she didn’t bring her stamp book, the priest neatly wrapped it up.
She also received a bookmark.
Address: Kamikawa-gun, Pippu-chō, Shinmachi 4-chōme 20 - 2
Parking lot: yes
Each shrine perfectly took measures against the corona infection.
There are also many quaint well ventilated and not very crowded shrines in the city and its suburbs.
Let’s apply the preventive measure against the coronavirus so we can return back to our old lifestyle.
Shrines still have many lucky charms and fun things to do!
Translation note: This article was translated a bit late for the new year, but you can always use it as a reference to do a shrine tour around Asahikawa.
Translated from Hama-chan’s article.