By David, long-term Tokyo resident & food-loving traveler
To start the New Year well, it is customary in Japan to begin the year with a visit to a shrine or temple. In addition, people like to visit the temples and shrines that are home to the seven lucky gods of Japan. The lucky gods are called Shichifukujin and this visit is called Shichifukujin-meguri.
On the way, you can collect a stamp from every place. Goshuin are handwritten stamps that visitors to Shinto Shrines and Buddhist temples collect. Usually, the entries are collected in a special notebook called Goshuin-cho. For the New Year, Shichifukujin courses usually have a special board or paper that is used to collect the goshuin stamps for each of the seven lucky gods.
The Yanaka Shichifukujin course
There are several courses in Tokyo that you can take to visit the lucky gods. The Yanaka course is said to be the oldest one. You can visit the temples on the course in any order, but traditionally the course below is the one most often taken. It is a nice leisurely walk through one of Tokyo’s oldest areas, taking about 2 and a half hours or a little longer if you stop for coffee on the way. Visiting these places will take you to historic buildings, temples, and parks in the Yanaka and Ueno area.
Fukurokuju at Tokaku-ji Temple, 6-minute Walk from Tabata Station on the JR Yamanote Line (2-7-3 Tabata, Kita-ku, Tokyo).
Ebisu at Seiun-ji Temple, 12-minute walk from Tokaku-ji Temple (3-6-4 Nishi-Nippori, Arakawa-ku, Tokyo).
Hoteison at Shusho-in Temple, 2-minute walk from Seiun-ji Temple (3-7-12 Nishi-Nippori, Arakawa-ku, Tokyo).
Bishamonten at Tenno-ji Temple, 10-minute walk from Shusho-in Temple, located near Nippori Station on the JR Yamanote Line (7-14-8 Yanaka, Taito-ku, Tokyo).
Jurojin at Choan-ji Temple, 5-minute walk from Tenno-ji Temple (5-2-22 Yanaka, Taito-ku, Tokyo).
Daikokuten at Gokoku-in Temple, 10-minute walk from Choan-ji Temple (10-18 Ueno Koen, Taito-ku, Tokyo).
Benzaiten at Shinobazu Benten-do, 15-minute walk from Gokoku-in Temple (2-1 Ueno Koen, Taito-ku).
Special goshuin stamps can be collected for each lucky good for 200 yen each, plus 1000 yen for the paper, from 9:00-17:00 during the first week of January. You are welcome to visit during another time of the year, but special goshuin are only available at the beginning of the year.