I suppose technically my hatsumode, or first visit to a shrine or temple at new year's time, was on January 2nd when I visited the local shrines in my neighborhood. But I feel my real hatsumode was yesterday, when I visited Hozanji (宝山寺), a Buddhist temple in Ikoma City, Nara. I have visited this temple for over 15 years now. This is where I purchase ofuda (talisman) to protect my house and juzu (prayer beads). Hozanji is one of the first temples I visited in Japan and I find it to be spectacular. It is quite large and people go there to pray - it is not as much of a tourist attraction as some of the more famous temples in Nara and Kyoto. Even when it is crowded at new year's, one can still find quiet places and enjoy a sense of spirituality. And it is a great place to take photos.
For more information about Hozanji, check out the following links.
Link to Ikoma City Official Homepage:
Link to Hozanji Temple Homepage (in Japanese):