Many Japanese people visit shrines or temples at New Years in a practice called “Hatsu-moude.” “Hatsu” means new or first, and “Moude” means visiting shrines or temples.
Traditionally people are supposed to visit their local shrines or temples. This is because it is believed that the spirits worshipped in local shrines or temples protect their regional areas. However, there is no strict rule, and many people visit big places such as “Meiji Shrine” in Tokyo or “Kawasaki-daishi” in Kanagawa Prefecture. People pray to God/spirits to show them appreciation for the last year and to wish for a good new year. Some people wear kimonos to go to Hatsu-moude. Some people wear new clothes, including underwear, as it is a Japanese custom to refresh oneself in the new year.