I went to a shrine near where I live on the 1st of this month, but since my friend insisted on visiting another in Tokyo, we decided to pay a visit to a shrine called "Kanda Myoujin", which was about 20 minutes away from Akihabara station. Usually people visit a shine for the first time within 3 days from the start of a new year, but the first visit called "Hatsumoude" can be done by the end of January.
This is called Torii, or the entrance of a shrine. As referred to in the anime Lucky Star, this is the place where a bird rests on and this gate separates the secular world where people live from the premises of the shrine.
There was a souvenir shop in front of the Torii and many kinds of charms were sold. And this shop was also selling alcohol called "Amazake", which is made from rice and tastes sweet. Some shrines give it to people for free, but this shop was selling a cup of Amazake for about 3.9 us dollars.
You should pass through this building to get inside. As you can see, there are two dolls on both sides of the path.
Those who came to pray go through this ring and say four prayers that are written on the board. By doing so, you can prevent disease. As I told you, before we get inside of a shrine we should "go through" a Torii, too, which also keeps you from having disease.
This lion is called "Komainu" and we often see one in a shrine that is opening the mouth. The one that is opening its mouth has another name, "Agyou".
Many people were coming to this shrine to say prayers. I visited another shrine in the midnight on the 1st but as it gets really cold in January (the low is about 0 degrees), you might as well visit one during the day.
My friend wanted to draw a secret lot called "Omikuji", and his result was pretty good. It said every problem he had would be solved this year. You have to shake a box and draw a sacred lot and these shrine maidens will give you a piece of paper that predicts your luck.
The gold figurine you're seeing in the center of the wave is called "Yebisu-sama" and he is said to make your business prosper. He is one of Seven Deities of Good Fortune called "Shichifukujin" and there is also a beer called "Yebisu" in Japan. Many company employees come to this shrine so that their companies will get a lot of business in the year.
I was a bit worried this posting might be redundant, as I made a posting on a shrine on January 1st, but I've wanted to show you how a shrine looks like during the day. And as this shrine is close to Akihabara, it would be easy for you to drop by when you come to Japan =)