Visitors flock to shrines and temples, but still a relative trickle


Visitors to Sensoji Temple, Meiji Shrine, Naritasan Shinshoji Temple, and Kawasaki Daishi Temple in the greater Tokyo area on January 1 (Photo taken by Takahiro Kumakura)

On January 1, the number of visitors to Shinto shrines and Buddhist temples in the greater Tokyo area was up from the same day in 2021, when Japan was plagued by a surge in the COVID-19 pandemic. , but far from the levels of recent years that have seen millions of people walk around.

At Tokyo’s spectacular Sensoji Temple in the Taito district, visitors were guided to the main hall directly from the Kaminarimon Gate via the traditional Nakamise shopping street. Pedestrians were not allowed to cross the street to ensure easy access to the main hall for worshipers.

Last year, visits to the main hall were not allowed for the first three days of January for fear of massive infections.

The Meiji Shrine in the Shibuya district has also relaxed its visiting rule this year by allowing crowds to form as December 31 approaches midnight. Last year he cordoned off the area.

Even though the number of crowds is higher this year due to a general feeling that the public health crisis is abating, the shrine has taken steps to guide worshipers by having them stay away from the main hall to ensure that they don’t huddle en masse in front of the building when they got there.

The Kawasaki Daishi Temple in the Kawasaki district of Kawasaki has taken similar measures to control the number of visitors.

“Compared to last year, we are seeing a lot more visitors,” said a temple representative. “But the figure is still far from the 2020 level.”

As a precaution against the new coronavirus, the temple has placed numerous disinfectant dispensers so that visitors can disinfect their hands.

Crowds also returned to Naritasan Shinshoji Temple near Narita Airport in Narita, Chiba Prefecture.

The temple provides disinfectants and other anti-virus items throughout its grounds to help protect visitors.