The guide for New Year in Japan (Nov, 31st -Jan, 1st)

For the Japanese, for whom New Year’s Day is the biggest event in the year, the night between Nov, 31st and Jan, 1st has special meaning. Some people go out with friends and enjoy as much as possible while the others spend the time with their family relaxing. Here, I will introduce you how to enjoy New Year’s eve and New Year’s Day. We can divide it into four parts on time series.

0, Anytime on Nov, 31st “Toshikoshi-Soba” (Buckwheat noodles eaten on New Year’s Eve)
1, 20:00-25:00 “Count down events”
2, 24:00-morning “Hatsu-mode” (First visit to a shrine/temple)
3, 29:00-sunrise “Hatsu-hinode” (Seeing the first sunrise of the year)

Those who want information for after New Year’s Day, please refer to the link.

0, Anytime on Nov, 31st
“Toshikoshi-Soba” (Buckwheat noodles eaten on New Year’s Eve)

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Toshikoshi-Soba is Buckwheat noodles eaten on New Year’s Eve since about 300 years ago for lucky superstition. Today, the percentage of Japanese who eat Toshikoshi-Soba is estimated to be more than 50 %. There are some explanations for this.
・Buckwheat noodles are believed to bring you health and long life because they are thin and long.
・Buckwheat noodles are believed to cut your disease or disaster because they are easy to be cut among noodles.
Any Soba will do but some people make special Soba with adding herring or fishcake, depending on the region. If you are having a rare occasion to be in Japan at New Year, I highly recommend you to join this practice and eat one.

1, Evening-25:00
“Count down events”

Same as in other big cities in the world, we also do Count down events in Tokyo. For people who like to make a fuss, the moment of the year turn will be the highlight. Usually, they are having event such as show or live from evening to 25 midnight. Here I’m introducing the place you can join a big event.

Note : This article is based on the information in 2015, and the detail can be changed.

A, Famous spots for countdown.

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“China town” source : http://www.yokohama-masobyo.jp/diary/diary.cgi

Shibuya Crossing
Charge : Free Time : Around 23:30-24:30
At this crossing which is becoming more famous worldwide, it is quite popular for people to come and raise a racket whenever there is a big event as Halloween or Japan’s match in World cup tournament. New Year’s eve is no exception and probably the biggest gathering in the year. You can spend the night at a bar or restaurant in Shibuya Center-gai.
Note : Though so many people come here to celebrate the New Year, there is no particular event here. And to avoid the disturbance, huge number of policemen will be deployed here. Some over-excited people are arrested every year.

China town at Yokohama
Charge : Free Time : Around 23:00-25:00
Why don’t you go have fun at only one China town in Japan? You can enjoy ever different New Year’s eve with flamboyant decoration and noisy events.

Kasairinkai Park (Kasai Seaside park)
Charge : Free Time : Around 23:00-24:15
At this park which is next to Tokyo Disney land, live will be held in front of the big Ferris wheel.

Yokosuka Verny park
Charge : Free Time : Around 18:00-25:00
Yokosuka is known to be the town of the naval port. On New Year’s eve, naval vessels in Japanese and American navy will be lit up. And you can see fireworks at the moment of the year turn.

B, Clubs and Bars

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Club ageHa : source : https://www.facebook.com/ageHa.fanpage

Club ageHa
Charge : 3,980 yen (Sold previously. 500 tickets only)
The countdown at this biggest club in Japan always get extremely excited. Many Japanese and some foreign DJ come and perform here. You can see the movie of last year at their homepage. http://www.ageha.com/schedule/event.php?id=250167

300 BAR 5 chome / 8 chome
Charge : Free for entrance. All drinks & food 300 yen.
At this low budgeted bar, Japanese and foreigners are always mingled together. Especially on New Year’s Eve, it will be exciting to drink here.
Homepage : http://www.300bar.com/english/index.html

Hooters
Charge : 3,500 (previously sold ticket) 4,000 (on arrival ticket)
Yes, you can visit Hooters in Tokyo too. They also hold special event on New Year’s eve. At the party, some specially invited DJs and performers will perform. All branches will have special open hours but, event will be held at Shibuya branch and Ginza branch.
Homepage : http://www.hooters.co.jp/en/

C, Theme parks

Asakusa-Hanayashiki
Charge : 1,000 for entrance and free pass
At this oldest theme park (since 1853), count down event will be held. You can pay a visit at Senso-ji temple for Hatsu-mode after count down.

Oedo onsen theme park
Charge : Entrance fee 2380 yen + 2000 yen (if you are staying later than two in the morning)
Event will be held at this first onsen theme park in Japan. You can enjoy Comedian’s talk and Oedo dance. You can spend New Year’s Eve in Yukata (easy Kimono) only at here.

Note : Apart from these on the list, there are many events at major theme parks and clubs, parks and so on. It will be fun to check events near by your hotel after arriving Japan.

2, 24:00-morning
“Hatsu-mode” (First visit to a shrine/temple)

Either he/she went out for count down event or not, many Japanese do “Hatsu-mode”. Hatsu-mode means the first visit to a shrine/temple. Normally people do this within the first three days in the year, and it’s also very common to go right after 24 midnight on Jan, 1st.

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Source : https://www.flickr.com/photos/inucara/5328171902/

The five most popular destination for Hatsu-mode

About the popular destination for Hatsu-mode, please refer to the link.
初詣の人気スポットについては、3が日の記事を参照(リンクを貼る)。
Any major shrines and temples will be welcoming many local people.

Other than major destinations, most of minor shrines and temples will also hold small event. Ringing New Year’s Eve Bell, distributing Japanese soup and sacred Sake are quite common at every shrine/temple. People usually visit with family or closest friends. If you will be in Japan at this time, check out the local shrine/temple which does event.

3, 29:00-sunrise
“Hatsu-hinode” (Seeing the first sunrise of the year)

“Hatsu-hinode” means the very first sunrise of the year and Japanese have custom of seeing it to be freshened or to make a wish. Surprisingly many Japanese are going out with sitting up all night or getting up quite early to see it.

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source : https://www.flickr.com/photos/kushii/11927065995/in/photostream/

Places you can see the first sunrise of the year around Tokyo.

Other than Tokyo tower or Sky tree, there are places from which you can see sunrise clearly.

Observatory in Roppongi Hills building @Roppongi
Ticket will be reserved by lottery system beforehand for 1,000 guests.

Tokyo Metropolitan Government Offices building @Shinjuku
Ticket will be reserved by lottery system beforehand for 600 guests.

The Ritz Carlton Tokyo ; Tower’s grill @Roppongi
They will be open from 6:30 in the morning. You need to be the first guest and order a seat from which you can see sunrise.

Observatory in Carrot tower building @Sangenchaya
A hidden place for seeing sunrise. Free entrance.

The promenade on Rainbow Bridge @Shibaura or Odaiba
Specially open for the public on New Year’s Eve. Free entrance.
You can see sunrise from the park right below the Rainbow Bridge.

Observatory in Telecom Center building @Telecom center
Open from 5 in the morning. First 800 arrivals can go in. Open from 5 am.
Entrance fee : 800 yen for adult, 500 yen for 15 years or less.

Takeshiba passenger vessel terminal @Takeshiba
Free entrance.

Mt. Takao @Takaosanguchi
Since huge amount of local people are climbing on New Year’s Eve, it’s better to start quite early (around 11 pm) to get a good place.

Mt. Mitake @Mitakesan
You can arrive at observatory with changing trains, cable cars and lifts.

Note : The sunrise on Jan, 1st in Tokyo is at around 6:40. You should be careful about your outfit because the temperature can easily get below 0℃ (32F).

Featured photo source: https://www.flickr.com/photos/87206714@N00/6658146491/

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