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What are popular activities around the new year season?

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Hatsumode 初詣 is a major New Year event. Hatsumode literally means "to pay the first visit of the year to the shrine," where one expresses gratitude for divine protection during the past year and gains the blessings of the local shrine for ongoing protection in the coming year. Typically, the Shintō priest gives a short talk, then welcomes all to share a small cup of sake 日本酒. Bonfires are typically lit as well. Even if people can't make the formal event, most try to visit a shrine sometime in early January.

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