The Best Places To Spend New Year's Eve In Tokyo

Sam Peet / Alexander Hellebaut
Sam Peet / Alexander Hellebaut | © Culture Trip
Alicia Joy

Tokyo Writer

The New Year holiday, or Shōgatsu in Japan, is a time for quiet reflection. Many people return to their hometowns to be with family, adhere to tradition, and make preparations for the New Year. As more and more Western-style celebrations pop up, Tokyoites are left with more things to do than they can handle. So whether you feel like making the hatsumode pilgrimage or counting down to midnight, these are the places to be on New Year’s Eve in Tokyo.

Celebrate in Shibuya

Shibuya has one of the most active nightlife scenes in all of Tokyo, so it makes sense that people would come out in droves to soak up the energy and bring in the New Year together. Crowds gather at Shibuya Crossing on New Year’s Eve for the countdown. When it’s all over, the neighborhood has no shortage of bars and clubs to help keep the party going.

2-2-1 Dogenzaka, Shibuya, Tokyo, Japan

Shibuya

2. Hatsumode at Meiji Jingu-mae

Shrine, Architectural Landmark, Historical Landmark

Hatsumode Meiji Jingu Shrine | © Dick Thomas Johnson/Flickr
© Dick Thomas Johnson/Flickr
Hatsumode is the first shrine visit of the New Year. It’s often done at midnight on December 31st, but anytime during the first few days of January is also acceptable. Every shrine will have its hatsumode visitors, but any shrine as large and well-known as Meiji Jingu will receive more than its fair share of the crowds and is truly a sight to see. Lineups to make your prayers heard by the gods can last several hours.

3. Joya no Kane at Zojoji Temple

Buddhist Temple

Tokyo’s Buddhist temples ring their bells an even 108 times at the stroke of midnight on December 31st. In the Buddhist faith, 108 marks the number of desires people have and, thus, the causes of human suffering. Visit Zojoji, or Sensoji, to experience the joya no kane ritual firsthand and have your heart, mind, and soul cleansed for the New Year ahead.

4. Countdown at Tokyo Tower

Building

587px-tokyo_tower_in_new_years_eve_2012
Tokyo Tower in Minato Ward has a modest countdown celebration for its own New Year’s greeting. At midnight, the lights change color, the date display changes, and balloons are released into the air.

5. Hatsuhinode on Mount Takao

Natural Feature, Park

Hatsuhinode is the first sunrise of the New Year. The Tokyo Sky Tree and Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building host viewing parties in their observatories for the event, but the lottery-selected guest list is limited and not easy to get your name on. Another option is to get outside of the city – watch the sunrise from a vantage point on nearby Mount Takao or Mitake.

6. Fireworks at Tokyo Disney

Resort, Hotel

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Tokyo Disney and DisneySea are a couple of places to catch a spectacular fireworks display for New Year’s Eve. In past years, these events were limited to hotel guests and a few others, but this year, it seems anyone can purchase an advance ticket online to go and enjoy the show.
landscape with balloons floating in the air

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