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Shrine visitors decrease over New Year’s holiday

Date Posted: 2008-01-07

The annual custom of going to a shrine on New Year’s Eve or New Year’s Day to offer coins at shrine altars, then make their wishes, saw fewer people this holiday season.
Hatsumode, meaning ‘go to the shrine and pray, offering your wishes to become dreams’ is a centuries-old tradition, but one that this year saw declines in the number of visitors. Okinawa Prefecture Police say 740,000 people visited Okinawa’s shrines between New Year’s Eve and January 3rd, a drop of 2,458 over the year before. While visitors to shrines dropped, the number of visitors flocking to tourist spots increased by 4,492.
Gokoku shrines in Naha City led the way with 213,000 visitors, followed by Naritasan with 190,000 and Naminoue shrine in Naha City with 137,000. Futenma was fourth with 90,000 visitors. Officials say the number of visitors at Gokoku dropped by 12,000 from the year before.
Ocean Expo Park, with Churaumi Aquarium, topped the list of tourist spots over the holiday period, with 39,295 visitors. Shuri Castle saw 38,200 tourists, and Okinawa World Gyokusendo Caves was third with 17,000. Officials say cold weather may have caused the smaller-than-usual numbers of visitors to shrines and tourism spots.

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