New Year in Japan is one of the biggest holidays observed usually over several days involving visits to family, friends and shrines or temples. Hatsumode (The first visit to a shrine in the new year) is very popular and for many may be their only visit of the year.
While at the shrine it's tradition to purchase Omikuji (Fortune-telling papers) said to predict how ones year will unfold. If the fortune is bad the paper is tied to a tree or line at the shrine in hope that bad fortune will stay there. Some however also believe in leaving the fortune papers even if it is good.