Things To Do In Tokyo During New Years

The Importance Of The New Year’s Holiday In Japan 

Both New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day are two of the most celebrated days in Japan. In Japanese culture, a new year is seen as the opportunity for new beginnings and experiences.

To reign in the new year, there are several events, and festivals enjoyed every single year all throughout Japan. 

Many traditions enjoyed on New Year’s Eve and throughout the first few days of the year have existed in Japanese culture for centuries in some form and are still held dear by many Japanese people

Japanese Traditions For The New Year

There are quite a few traditions held dear to people in Japan that are observed on New Years Eve and New Year’s Day.

Soba Shop In Japan

Some of these traditions revolve around family gatherings, enjoying delicious dishes like soba noodles or mochi at a New Year’s event. Others are about ways to manifest good fortune and good luck for the new year. 

Things To Do In Tokyo During New Years 

Japan is a special place to ring in the new year. If you happen to be considering a trip to Japan around this time, Tokyo should be at the top of your list of places to spend the new year.

It can be expensive to travel to Japan during this time, with how big of a deal the new year is, but it will definitely be memorable. 

Shibuya Scramble

The joy and jubilance around Tokyo throughout New Year’s Eve and during the first few days of the new year truly make it one of the best places to spend the holiday. 

How To Celebrate New Year’s Eve In Tokyo 

While people in Japan know how to have a good time, festivities aren’t about getting dressed up, partying, and drinking.

There is an abundance of things to do in and around Tokyo to have fun while waiting for the countdown, whether you want something a bit more low-key or want something more exciting. 

Yokohama Port

For a more intimate and quiet evening celebrating the new year’s arrival, Yokohama Port offers a stunning light show at Minato Mirai that is made extra special by the surrounding water.

If so inclined, you can also take a boat cruise around the water to ring in the new year in a special way. 

Yokohama Port

Not too far from the port is the Yokohama Hakkeijima Sea Paradise, an aquarium and amusement park of sorts where you can also enjoy a host of attractions, fireworks, and music during New Year’s Eve.  

Zozo-ji Temple NYE Countdown

The Zozo-ji Temple is a popular spot for New Year’s Eve, as well as throughout the rest of the year. The temple has been standing for centuries, and is a marvel of architecture.

The Tokyo Tower is also nearby, and is illuminated at night. 

Zozo-ji Temple

Tourists and locals alike flock to the temple late at night, and once the clock strikes midnight, a monk rings the temple bell 108 times.

This tradition is said to help set the new year up well by helping to cleanse away the 108 temptations from the world.

New Year’s Eve nights at Zozo-ji Temple end up being fairly low-key, but are still enjoyable with a friendly atmosphere.

Sacred Bell Ringings 

Most temples in Tokyo and around Japan will engage in this sacred bell ringing tradition, called joya-no-kane. It’s often the monks at the temples who will start ringing the bell at midnight to make sure it rings 108 times.

There are also bells around the temples that people can ring when they do their yearly temple visits for the new year season. 

Tsukiji Hongwanji Bell Ringing 

The Tsukiji Hongwanji Temple hosts an annual New Year’s Bell event where they allow 350 people to step up and ring the bell as New Year’s Eve transitions to New Year’s Day.

In order to get the chance to ring the bell, people typically come very early. 

The space can get crowded, but even if you can’t ring the bell yourself, it’s a great place to mingle with locals.

You can also enjoy traditional Japanese music and some tasty soba or oden to warm up as you ring in the new year with some new friends. 

Kasai Rinkai Park NYE Countdown 

Kasai Rinkai Park is a fantastic place to spend New Year’s Eve. You can enjoy special performances, music, and a lot more fun as you await the countdown.

Kasai Rinkai Park Via Tripadvisor

The park also features the Diamond and Flower Ferris Wheel, which happens to be the biggest of its kind in Japan. 

As you take a ride on the Ferris wheel at night, you get unforgettable views of Tokyo Skytree, Rainbow Bridge, and many more landmarks.

Rainbow Bridge Tokyo

This incredible Ferris wheel is extremely tall and offers 360 degree views. Even though you won’t see it at night, riding the Ferris wheel during the day will sometimes give you the opportunity to see the top of Mount Fuji in the distance. 

Roppongi Nightclubs

Roppongi is the area to visit if you’re looking for a party on New Year’s Eve. This entertainment district of Tokyo is full of bars and clubs where DJs will entertain clubbers all night before the countdown starts.

Shibuya is another district in Tokyo that hosts a few parties in clubs if you’re looking for that typical NYE experience while in Japan.  

Asakusa’s Hanayashiki 

Hanayashiki is one of the coolest amusement parks in Japan, and it also happens to be the one that’s been around the longest.

You can enjoy the park and all its amenities until 6 p.m. on New Year’s Eve, and then the special events will begin. 

Hanayahsiki Amusement Park Via Tripadvisor

Hanayashiki

There are light shows and comedy shows held and rides open back up in the evening. Once it gets close to midnight, a countdown event will begin.

The atmosphere created here is truly an unforgettable one for people of all ages. 

How To Celebrate New Year’s Day In Tokyo 

One tradition you can enjoy anywhere in Tokyo on New Year’s Day is watching the first sunrise of the year. This is called hatsu hinode in Japanese, and it is seen as the best way to start the day.

It’s also considered important to spend the day having fun and enjoying yourself, not doing any work, and trying to remain as stress-free as possible. 

Visiting Buddhist Temples And Shinto Shrine

The tradition of visiting Buddhist temples and Shinto shrines on New Year’s Day is one many Japanese people hold as sacred and is known as hatsumode. You are more than welcome to observe the tradition regardless of your faith.

With how many temples and shrines you can find throughout Tokyo, it’s also a great chance to see a host of landmarks you may have never seen before. 

People will visit shrines and temples all throughout Japan from December 31st to January 3rd. There is a temple bell that people will often wait in line to ring to set out their intentions for the year or say a prayer. 

There are quite a few shrines and temples all throughout the big city of Tokyo and beyond.

Some of the notable spots often visited during the new year season include the above-mentioned Zozo-ji Temple, as well as the Senso-ji Temple, one of the biggest shrines, Meiji-Jingu Shrine, the Yasukuni-jinja Shrine, and the Tsukiji Honganji, though there are many more. 

Eating Traditional Japanese New Year Foods 

Unfortunately, a lot of restaurants will be closed, so you may have to get somewhat creative with where you find your traditional Japanese eats around this time.

The good news is that places like convenience stores will prepare some traditional dishes that you can pick up, made with fresh and local ingredients. These dishes end up being incredibly delicious, so you won’t feel like you’re missing out.  

One such dish you’ll find is osechi ryori, which consists of a layered box featuring all kinds of small portions of special dishes.

These boxes might vary depending on where you get them from, but some of the common foods you can find in osechi ryori include daikon salad, mochi, pickled lotus root, chicken, and all kinds of yummy vegetable and seafood dishes. 

Tips For Spending New Years In Tokyo 

One thing to consider when planning how to spend your time in Tokyo over the new year is closures.

Many of the places that close will close from December 31st until January 2nd, with some places also remaining closed until January 3rd.

Standard spots like government-operated businesses are closed, as are many shops, museums, and restaurants. 

Public transit will continue to run throughout the holidays, and of course, hotels and ryokans stay open during this time, given how many people visit Japan for the new year holidays. Convenience stores also remain open, as do some fast food places

Tokyo’s Yamanote Line Encircles The City

The temples and shrines remain open throughout these days, given how important they are to visit during this time.

You can still find numerous things to see and do, from exploring some of the beautiful outdoor spaces to walking through various districts of the expansive city. 

News years in Japan is a special time of year. Whether you’re spending it with fellow travelers to see the first sunrise of the new year or visiting a temple or shrine for good health and to hear temple bells.

Countdown events are dotted across the city and at Tokyo’s best-known shrines or even at a local shrine. Food stalls are often found near them, and it makes for a great place to see and also enjoy the occasional fireworks displays and the endless countdown parties.

Meiji Shrine

Take a chance and visit Shibuya crossing for the best time and a great way to bring in new year’s eve. January 1st is often spent with family rather than a lot of people. The Meiji shrine can be a great place to visit on new year’s day.

The Imperial palace gardens are also a popular place to visit on new years day and are one of many perfect places to contemplate the first day of the year.

Toshikoshi soba is often eaten on new years eve in the belief of long life.

Imperial Palace Tokyo

Staying in Tokyo at one of its numerous hot springs hotels is one of the best things to experience. If you are planning on being in Tokyo for a Japanese new year celebration, then it’s filled with many popular places to have rare lifetime experiences and see an ancient temple, keep back luck at bay, and see the way the Japanese prepare for the upcoming year and take in the big events.

Virtual Tour Of Tokyo On New Year’s Day

MT Lee
My fascination with Japan began several years back at a roadside bonsai stand while on vacation. I became more interested in the where and why's more than the trees themselves. My love of Bonsai led me to further research my interest in the gardens where they originated from and the places and people that surrounded those little trees. My curiosity was well rewarded upon visiting Saitama where the National Bonsai Museum was located and Omiya Village the bonsai mecca for lovers of this ancient art form. Exploring many towns and villages and even making my way to Japan's furthest southern prefecture of Okinawa. I hope to share my love of this wonderful and exotic place with all those who want to know more about Japan.