Happy New Year! Today most of Japanese go to nearby JIN-JA(shrine, holy place of Japanese Shinto). Most of Japanese is not devout, they don't have deep religious feeling, so this is the first and the last visit of them. It is just an annual event.
SHIN-BUTSU-SHU^GO^ (word for word 'God-Buddha-Fusion') is a character of Japanese religion. Because of our traditional religion (Japanese Shinto) is a polytheism so when Buddhism came in Japan Buddha was considered as 'another god in the neighbor country'. It made Japanese tolerance of other religions. Most of Japanese celebrate Christmas, visit a Shinto shrine on new year day and mourn the deceaded in Buddhism style.
The number of people who visited shrine in the first three day is 98.18 millions (in 2008, according to National Police Agency). The most visited shrine is MEIJI-JINGU^ in Tokyo, 3.17 millions. MEIJI-JINGU^ is the shrine dedicated to the memory of the Meiji Emperor. I and my family always visit ISHI-KIRI-TSURUGI-YA Shrine (means stone-cut-sword-arrow) because it is the nearest. It is dedicated to NIGIHAYAHI god, lived before the first emperor come to here. But I didn't know it till yesterday. It is not important for me.
See also: Shinbutsu shūgō - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia and Hatsumōde - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.