It’s a tradition to go to the local shrine. We went to the Sengen Jinja nearby. I used to think ours was THE Sengen Jinja, but apparently they are everywhere. The one in Shizuoka is near Mt. Fuji. and is probably the most famous. When we were there, we got a couple of charms (mamori) for the kids, and a Hamaya.
Hamaya literally means demon breaking arrow. For the comic-reading, movie-loving, fantasy book-reading kid in me, this is as much fun as a new FPS and a free weekend without the kids.
They sell the arrows at the shrines around New Year’s for luck. It’s a good-luck charm. Apparently it started a couple of centuries ago (Edo period – about 1600 to 1860), they were gifts to newborn boys with a bow, too. The hamayumi, demon-breaking bows, you guessed it – are not really seen anymore. I’ve heard tell that the original word hama in hamaya probably didn’t mean demon breaking, but someone attached some Kanji that sounded right and had cool meaning.
Either way, I have a demon breaking arrow in my front hall. I should totally write a comic book based on this.