Japanese business leaders have been making their tradition annual new year visit to pray at a shrine in Tokyo which is considered to be lucky for business.
Amid concerns about the global economy and Europe’s debt problems, the ancient Kanda Myoujin shrine is braced for more visitors than usual; 110,000 each day where they pray to Ebisu, the Japanese god of commerce.
After a year wracked by the March 11 earthquake and tsunami which led to a nuclear power disaster , as well as record high levels for the yen hitting exports, Japanese businessmen and women are doing everything they can to make 2012 a brighter year.
“Last year the economy was not so great, but thanks to our prayers at the shrine we were able to meet our budget, so that’s why I came again this year to pray,” fibre optics salesman, 39-year-old Ryoji Yoshida said.
But many Tokyo residents like 56-year-old Masatoshi Hamada, an IT company employee, are not optimistic.
“This is going to be a bad year. Things are bad politically, the situation in Europe is bad, exports are way down, and I think Japanese companies are going to suffer even more this year with deflation going on,” he said.
Shimpei Kato, 26, said “It’s a tough period, with Europe’s crisis and other things. I think Japan’s strength is being tested now, so as a business person, I want to play a part in bringing the economy back.”
The shrine staff say employees from around 7,000 companies, mainly from the central Tokyo area, come each year for New Year prayers.