It’s a popular Island tradition that has centuries-old roots in Japan. On New Year’s Eve or New Year’s Day, thousands of people will gather at a Nu`uanu Shinto temple to receive a good luck blessing to start the new year.
Before midnight on December 31st, people line up outside the Daijingu Temple of Hawaii to receive a blessing from a Shinto priest, followed by the purchase of a good luck amulet to help them over the next 12 months, and a fortune written on paper. All are welcome at this public event.
It’s an event this temple started shortly after its inception in 1903 (though city records show the church officially registered itself in 1920), and it attracts an estimated 4,000 people – many of whom bring their pets.
Reverend Akihiro Okada is the temple’s priest, and he administers most of the blessings, though during this overnight event, he appoints several other priests and priestesses to fill in for him, including me. The line is long, and it’s fairly continuous. The event ends at 4 p.m. on January 1.
After you are blessed, the line snakes around to a kiosk selling charms, or “omamori.” I help with this, as well.
There are dozens of different type of charms, though the most popular include ones to protect your home, your family, and yourself; to help you find love, and to help your children succeed in school.
For your planning purposes: There is a blessing on the 31st at 10 p.m. and 11 p.m., but the bulk of the traffic arrives between midnight and 3 a.m., then ramps up again between 5 a.m. and 3 p.m.
If you cannot make the public event, you can also make appointments for individual New Year blessings for you and/or your family. (Suggestion donation: $100.) Call Reverend Okada at (808) 595-3102 to set up appointments. The temple is open until 4 p.m. on New Year’s Day and throughout the month of January.
This is not the same as the ten second blessing at the New Year’s event. It’s longer and more involved.
The public event is free, but donations are appreciated. This is the temple’s largest fundraiser of the year.
Park at the shrine’s parking lot or on the street; additional parking available at Boy Scouts parking lot across the shrine.
View a KITV4 (ABC) appearance on 12/24/16 about this event:
Daijingu Temple of Hawaii
61 Puiwa Road – near corner of Nu`uanu Avenue and Puiwa Road – just above Queen Emma Summer Palace and near the Nu`uanu Valley Park.
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