Are you planning to spend New Year’s Day in Tokyo this year? If the answer is “Yes”, you will want to continue reading! In Tokyo and Japan, there are many things to do and see on New Year’s Day and it is important to do some research on the possible tourist attractions and enjoyable places that you can visit. It is a fantastic time to be in Tokyo, but bear in mind that some businesses (including banks and supermarkets), museums and shops close for a few days. Fortunately, Tokyo boasts a number of exciting spots that welcome visitors with a wide range of facilities and attractions to choose from, even on New Year’s Day. Here is a helpful list of places including perfect destinations to spend an unforgettable New Year’s Day in Tokyo!
If you want to read more about Japanese customs and tradition for the New Year’s holiday read our blog: How to spend the New Year’s holiday in Japan
- Best tourist spots for New Years
- Amusement parks at New Year’s holiday
- Special New Year’s Day Events
- Celebrate a new year in a traditional way
- Japan Wonder Travel Tours
- Other articles you may like
Best tourist spots for New Years
Popular tourist attractions in Tokyo hold special events that are only enjoyable during the New Year’s holiday season. Joining those events allows you to discover new aspects of famous spots and do as local Japanese do at the arrival of the New Year! Here are our recommendations:
Tokyo Skytree is a new landmark in Tokyo that stands 634 meters while offering a range of exciting experiences. It fascinates visitors on New Year’s Day with the stunning view of the first sunrise of the year from the two observation decks. Night is also a perfect time to enjoy the beautiful tower brightly lit up in special colors to celebrate the arrival of the new year! Solamachi (ソラマチ) is a giant shopping complex located on the same ground of the tower. It offers an exciting shopping experience with a number of shops holding a special sale!
Highlights for New Year’s at Tokyo Skytree
- See the first sunrise of the year from two different observation decks on symbolic tower
- Visit the symbolic tower dressed in memorable illumination on New Year’s Day
Mt. Takao is the most accessible mountain from the central part of Tokyo. As a new year’s tradition in Japan, watching the first sunrise of the year is a very popular thing to do and Mt. Takao is the best place for it. It gets crowded on the top of the mountain before sunrise (likely around 3am it’ll be limited to entering the top of the mountain) every year. Time of sunrise is around 6:45am, and if you want to watch the sunrise on the top of the mountain, you’ll need to get there early. From 6:30am, Geiko-sai, the traditional ritual will be performed by the monk at Yakuo-In temple on the top of the mountain.
Please note that better be prepared for cold weather while waiting for the sunrise on the mountain if you decide to spend the early morning on the mountain.
*Due to COVID-19, the access to the top of the mountain will be closed (2020)
The information for 2021 will be announced soon
Hilights for New Year’s at Mt. Takao
- Watch the first sunrise from the top of the mountain
- Visit Yakuo-In temple to pray for a good year
“Hatsu-uri” and “Fukubukuro” Shopping
Another fun thing to do on New Year’s Day or week is going shopping! Hatsu-uri is the first opening day of the year and New Year’s sales are everywhere and lucky bags (Fukubukuro in Japanese) are in the shops only available during New Year’s. Lucky bags are special packages that you can’t see what you get until you open it.
The opening hours and the first opening day are varied and different from the usual operation on New Year’s holidays for most of the shopping malls and department stores. Here are our recommended shopping malls and department stores that open during New Year’s Day and holidays!
*Opening hours might be changed due to COVID-19 in 2021
|Name||Opening hours||First opening day|
|Seibu Ikebukuro||10am-8pm||January 1st|
|Sunshine City||10am-8pm||January 1st|
|Matsuya Asakusa||11am-6pm||January 1st|
|Daimaru Tokyo||9:30am-8pm||January 2nd|
|Nihonbashi Mitsukoshi||10am-6pm||January 2nd|
|Tokyu Plaza Ginza||10am-8pm||January 2nd|
|Ginza SIX||10:30am-8pm||January 2nd|
|Ginza Mitsukoshi||10am-6pm||January 2nd|
|Shibuya Hikarie||10am-8pm||January 2nd|
|Shibuya Scramble Square||11am-8pm||January 2nd|
|Shibuya PARCO||11am-9pm||January 2nd|
|Shibuya 109||10am-9pm||January 2nd|
|Lumine Shinjuku||11am-8pm||January 2nd|
|Laforet Harajuku||11am-8pm||January 2nd|
|Matsuzakaya Ueno||10am-8pm||January 2nd|
|Ueno Marui||10am-8:30pm||January 2nd|
|Shinjuku Isetan||10:30am-8pm||January 3rd|
Shibuya Yokocho at RAYARD MIYASHITA PARK in Shibuya is an indoor alleyway where many restaurants and Izakaya (Japanese bar and restaurant) are located. There are a variety of 19 restaurants in total and you can try local soul foods from each region of Japan! It’s almost a theme park recreating a retro vibe to the old days in Japan, you can also visit the kissa-snack style cafe/pub on the second floor.
It opens on New Year’s Eve and Day, and if you want to celebrate the New Years in the central city like Shibuya, go to Shibuya Yokocho and enjoy delicious meals and drinks in the vibrant atmosphere!
teamLab Planets Tokyo
teamLab offers digital art museums in several locations in Tokyo, and teamLab Planets Tokyo is located in Toyosu. The concept of the museum is “Body Immersive”, the incredible art works include walking through water and flower gardens on bare foot! It’s definitely one of the best instagrammable spots in Tokyo, and you can be a part of artworks in a picture.
▶Book e-ticket for teamLab Planets Tokyo
Amusement parks at New Year’s holiday
If you are looking for somewhere to spend a memorable New Year’s Day with your children, check out popular amusement parks in Tokyo! Each spot features unique attractions and activities, which let your children choose what to do from a variety of options. Some of them also include facilities for adults such as shopping areas and restaurants!
Tokyo Disney Parks
Tokyo Disney Parks are without a doubt the most popular theme parks in Japan. Although the famous annual special event New Year’s Eve will be canceled this year, it is still worth it to spend a memorable day at the magical wonderland! Visitors will be welcomed by Disney characters dressed in traditional Japanese clothing such as a Kimono. A special parade is also scheduled during January giving visitors a memorable time with other Disney fans. Enjoy special cuisines at Tokyo Disney Hotel or Disney Ambassador Hotel!
Highlights for New Year’s at Tokyo Disneyland
- Meet popular Disney characters dressed in beautiful traditional Japanese clothing
- Check out exciting parades, great cuisines, and limited products
Yomiuri Land is a huge amusement park located on the border between Inagi City in Tokyo and Kawasaki City in Kanagawa. It offers a variety of experiences including exciting rides, entertaining performances by popular characters, a BBQ area for families, and even Sea lion shows! Jewellumination is one of the highlights among special events that is scheduled to be held from the middle of October through April in 2021. 6.5 million lights brightly decollate the entire park divided into 12 areas based on different themes! If you want a thrilling experience, bungee jumping is also popular on New Year’s Eve or Day at the park, you can bungee jump from 22 meters above the ground! It might make a good start of the new year!
Highlights for New Year’s at Yomiuri Land
- Enjoy exciting rides, character performances, and sea lion shows with children
- Beautiful illumination offers a romantic dating spot to couples
- Make a good start with bungee jumping!
Grandberry Park Minami-Machida
As many companies offer a New Years bonus, the New Year holiday is a popular time for shopping. Traditionally many shops hold a large sale and another popular New Year’s custom is the Fukubukuro, Japanese lucky bags. Grandberry Park Minami-Machida is a giant complex that opened in 2019. It mainly consists of three areas: a shopping area called Grandberry Park, Park-Life Site including a museum and café that features the world-famous character Snoopy, and the peaceful park Tsuruma Park. Grandberry park is the main shopping hub that boasts 230 shops and restaurants including famous fashion brands both domestic and overseas. It also features other convenient facilities such as a movie theater and pet friendly cafes where you can enjoy lunch with your pets!
Highlights for New Year’s at Grandberry Park Minami-Machida
- Newly opened shopping hub directly connected to station
- Shopping experience at 230 shops & refreshing time in nature with children and pets
Tokyo Dome City
Tokyo Dome City is home to a range of facilities and enjoyable attractions. It includes Tokyo Dome, the main stadium of a popular baseball team known as Tokyo Giants. Tokyo Dome City Attractions is a free-to-enter amusement park that offers exciting rides and attractions for everyone. LaQua is a refreshing facility that offers relaxing services such as spa, body massage, and more. Enjoy a 100% pure hot spring bath and satisfy your stomach with great dishes. Located in the center of the city and close to major JR stations, The Tokyo Dome Hotel gives you an advantage to get around Tokyo smoothly while staying in the luxurious room!
Highlights for New Year’s at Tokyo Dome City
- Giant amusement park & other satisfying facilities for everyone
- Great location to enjoy your stay in the metropolitan city
Special New Year’s Day Events
New Year’s Day is the perfect time to join seasonal events held at popular tourist spots. The special atmosphere of the new year also makes it easier for everyone to try visiting new places that they have never been.
Sky Circus Sunshine 60 observation deck
Sky Circus Sunshine 60 observation deck is situated at Sunshine City, a symbolic commercial complex in Ikebukuro area. The 239.7 meters skyscraper offers an incredible view of the city with unique technology including VR experiences and optic illusions. On New Year’s Day, they organize a special event for people to see the first sunrise of the year from 251 meters above sea level. Limited space is available, and tickets can be purchased only online.
Geihinkan (also known as “the State Guest House”) plays a significant role as the official facility to welcome dignitaries from all over the world. It was originally built as a crown prince’s residence, but later started to be used as a palace for diplomatic activities. Visitors can explore the historical buildings featuring the impressive architectural style called Neo-baroque style.
The impressive magnificent exterior of each building and luxurious furniture inside are still in use on special occasions. From January 1st to 3rd in 2020, the main garden was opened to the public, free of charge. Although no special events are scheduled at this time this year, visiting there will be a memorable experience regardless!
Celebrate a new year in a traditional way
You can also spend New Year’s Day in the traditional Japanese way. It may sound challenging at first, especially for those who are not familiar with Japanese culture and manners, but most of them are easy to try just by following some simple steps! Here are our two recommendations to spend New Year’s Day through traditional Japanese experiences!
Hatsumode (初詣) is a first visit to shrine or temple of the new year. It is one of the most important annual events for Japanese people and has a long history. People pay a visit to shrines or temples to pray and make wishes for the coming year. Some popular temples and shrines such as Senso-ji temple in Asakusa and Meiji Jingu in Shibuya attract thousands of visitors! Hatsumode also gives you a great opportunity to learn Japanese traditions including omikuji, a fortune-telling paper slip sold at shrines and temples!
Pilgrimage New Year’s holiday
Shichifukujin Meguri (七福神巡り) refers to a traditional Japanese custom that has an origin back in the Edo period (1603-1868). People visit shrines that worship 7 different lucky gods, including Ebisu (恵比寿), a deity that symbolizes prosperity and success full business. The Nihonbashi area offers a popular Shichifukujin Meguri course where you’ll visit 7 shrines in a short time. Enjoy this traditional Japanese custom while strolling around the lively area with a nostalgic atmosphere back in the old days!
Mochitsuki (pounding rice to make mochi) is a traditional event on New Year’s Day. It has a meaning of family prosperity, and mochitsuki used to perform not only on New Year’s but to celebrate weddings and when moving in the new house.
There are some mochitsuki events in Tokyo in January, at Shokoji temple they offer a family mochitsuki event where local people gather every year.
Japan Wonder Travel Tours
If you are looking for the best way to experience Tokyo, you should definitely check out our private tours with a local English-speaking guide. Visiting any destination together with a local guide who will show you the highlights as well as some local recommendations, is in our eyes the ultimate way to discover the beauty Japan has on offer. Some of our tours:
- Tokyo 1-day highlights tour
Walk around the world’s largest city and discover it’s highlights!
- Tsukiji food tour
Explore the Japanese kitchen at the famous fish market in Tsukiji where you’ll try local food and refreshing drinks!
- Sumo Tournament Jan 2021
Experience the enthusiastic Sumo Tournament *National Sport at Ryogoku Kokugikan.
New Year’s Day is widely considered as one of the most important days of the year to celebrate the arrival of new year. Many Japanese use the holiday to spend some quality time with their family and relax, but there are many events or tradition that internationals living in or visiting Japan, can also join. There are certainly no specific rules that you need to follow to spend the special day in Japan, so it is all up to you how and where to start a brand-new year. Do bear in mind that some shops and offices are closed for a few days. Try or visit one of the tourist attractions we introduced above and have a memorable time with your family or loved ones!