In a type of purification ritual performed at New Year's in the Shinto religion, Akihiro Okada, minister of Daijingu Temple of Hawaii, waved a "haraigushi" yesterday over Dana Shishido and her nephew Cody Lau, 5.

Traditions preserved
at Shinto temple

Sixty-seven-year-old June Hayashida kept a lifelong New Year's tradition by visiting a 100-year-old Shinto shrine in Nuuanu yesterday, accompanied by eight of her children and grandchildren.

"We come for family blessings every year," said Hayashida, whose grandmother would bring her to the Daijingu Temple of Hawaii when it was in Liliha.

Despite the heavy rains, about 8,000 visitors have visited Daijingu since midnight New Year's Eve, when the New Year observances commenced, priest Akihiro Okada estimated. Cars backed up on Pali Highway New Year's Day trying to get to the Puiwa Road shrine.

Hayashida prayed for prosperity and health in the new year and gave thanks for the blessings of the past year.

Okada, dressed in a blue and silver brocade robe, waved the "haraigushi," a wand of white paper streamers, over their bowed heads.

"We wave the haraigushi to purify them so they can get more good luck and happy life for the entire year," said Okada.

Daijingu, which enshrines Amaterasu, "the deity of deities," is one of seven active Shinto shrines in Hawaii recognized by the Hawaii Shinto Association.

Many, like James and Julie Pritchett, also went to the shrine to pick up several "omamori," amulets for good fortune and well-being for the new year, for family members.

Others, like Alice Fujiwara and her mother Kay Toma, 82, postponed their usual New Year's Eve visit until yesterday, when the sun shone, to keep their family's 45-year tradition.

Fujiwara dropped a quarter in a wooden box and received her "omikuji," a fortune predicting a "fairly good" year for her.

Hundreds before her had tied their red-lettered fortunes, good and bad, to the shrine's Okinawan cherry trees, which, from a distance, appeared covered with pink blossoms.

Fujiwara, a third-generation Japanese, said she is "concerned about generations to come to follow the traditions."

"I'd like to see the traditions continue," said Fujiwara, who was pleased to see teens and young adults attending. "It's part of growing up in Hawaii."

Daijingu Temple will continue its New Year rituals through Thursday.


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