Hatsumode, the first shrine visit of the year, is a widely observed Japanese custom which typically takes place within the first three days of January. This year, many shrines are asking the public to consider a postponed or decentralised hatsumode so as to prevent large crowds of people being infected with the coronavirus.
Some shrines began selling hatsumode talismans in November so people could pay their respects without putting themselves at risk during the busiest time of year. One shrine, however, has an alternative solution for those who want to strengthen their spiritual connections from a distance.
Ibaraki’s Kashima Shrine offers special credit cards that have been blessed by a Shinto priest. The cards are produced in collaboration with Mitsukoshi Group’s credit card company, Micard, and are exclusive to the shrine.
New credit card members can choose between three different designs and receive a card that has been cleansed and blessed through a Shinto ceremony. Membership fees and any points you accumulate through usage are automatically donated to the shrine to help fund and preserve it. In return, you’ll receive reward items from the shrine every year, as well as gain free access to restricted sections of the shrine and the Kashima Shrine Treasure Museum.
While the card is a convenient way of making frequent contributions to a historical Shinto site, bear in mind that just like most credit cards, this one comes with annual fees and interest rates. Perhaps a postponed hatsumode is the way forward after all.
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