Japan shrines prepare to welcome visitors for New Year as virus rages

Japan shrines prepare to welcome visitors for New Year as virus rages

Shrines across Japan would usually expect to welcome millions of people to celebrate New Year, but the novel coronavirus pandemic has dampened the celebratory mood this time as the country faces a third wave of infections.

Kanda Myojin, a major shrine in Tokyo, revealed its restrictions and countermeasures on its website early on, focusing on following government protocols and limiting situations that could lead to crowding.

“It is painful to have to put restrictions in place, as we would normally like to invite as many people as possible,” said senior priest Mizuki Takashima, 27.

Annual New Year’s shrine visits called “hatsumode” are practiced by many across the country, a tradition which sees families and friends get together in droves to pay their respects in the first few days of January.

Many often huddle close together in the cold as they wait in snaking queues and drop or throw coins into a shrine’s offertory box as they near the front of the structure.

While many shrines typically stay open even in the twilight hours for New Year’s, some have decided to keep their gates shut this year. Although Kanda Myojin will stay open through the night, it has asked visitors to avoid coming at midnight and early on Jan. 1.

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Dec 28

Japan’s Meteorological Agency is warning that heavy snow is forecast over wide areas during the New Year holidays.
(NHK)

Dec 28

Shrines across Japan would usually expect to welcome millions of people to celebrate New Year, but the novel coronavirus pandemic has dampened the celebratory mood this time as the country faces a third wave of infections.
(Kyodo)

Dec 28

The Japanese government has suspended entry of non-resident foreign nationals to Japan to prevent the transmission of coronavirus variants.
(NHK)

Dec 27

Japan will ban entry from all countries to prevent the spread of the more contagious U.K. strain of the coronavirus, the government announced Saturday. (Nikkei)

Dec 27

The Toei Oedo Line subway will temporarily reduce service after 15 drivers tested positive for the novel coronavirus, the Tokyo Metropolitan Government said on Saturday, reports the Asahi Shimbun (tokyoreporter.com)

Dec 26

Giant advertising screens on buildings overlooking a popular scramble crossing near Tokyo’s Shibuya Station will be turned off earlier than usual on New Year’s Eve, as one of the efforts to deter people from gathering amid the coronavirus outbreak.
(NHK)

Dec 26

Japanese airports and train stations on Saturday started seeing some lines of travelers heading to their hometowns or other places for the year-end and New Year holidays, but there was less crowding than usual because of the coronavirus pandemic.
(Japan Today)

Dec 24

If you thought Japanese beer meant Asahi, Kirin and Sapporo, think again. ( VICE Asia)

Dec 24

Qantas has made its first significant move to restart international flying after revealing it has plans to launch a new business with Japan Airlines in July. (australianaviation.com.au)

Dec 23

Japan and other Asian countries are adding to the cascade of global restrictions on travel from the U.K., amid fears of a new coronavirus variant believed to be more transmissible than strains seen so far.
(Nikkei)

Dec 23

Ticket prices for Tokyo Disneyland and Tokyo DisneySea during peak periods will increase by up to 500 yen ($4.80) starting from next March, operator Oriental Land Co. said Tuesday.
(Kyodo)

Dec 22

Meiji Jingu, a major Shinto shrine in central Tokyo, has decided to close its gates during New Year’s Eve to prevent spread of the new coronavirus.
(NHK)

Dec 21

Heavy snowfalls have hit Niigata Prefecture, leaving roads and houses blanketed in heavy snow. (RT)

Dec 20

An 18-meter kinetic statue of Gundam, a famous anime robot, was revealed to the public at the Gundam Factory Yokohama complex southwest of Tokyo on Saturday.
(Nikkei)

Dec 20

The Japanese ferry Taiheiyo Ferry runs between Hokkaido and Nagoya via Sendai. (Kuga’s Travel)

Dec 19

The coronavirus hasn’t stopped a street in the city of Sendai, northeastern Japan, from becoming a dazzling winter wonderland.
(NHK)

Dec 19

Heavy snow has brought traffic chaos to much of north-west Japan, with hundreds of vehicles stuck on blocked highways. (abc.net.au)

Dec 19

Railway operators serving the Tokyo metropolitan region, including East Japan Railway Co. (JR East) announced Friday their respective decisions not to run trains all night on New Year’s Eve through New Year’s Day, as a measure to reduce the spread of the novel coronavirus. (Japan Times)

Dec 18

Traveling abroad is always more enjoyable if the visitor can anticipate customs and amenities that are likely to be different from those at home. The following represent some of the concerns travelers to Japan will likely to want to know about before embarking on the journey. (newsonjapan.com)

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