Time seems to pass way too quickly sometimes – it’s already the end of the year again! Japan and particularly Tokyo is a great choice to visit for a New Year’s trip. The culture surrounding New Year's Eve in Tokyo is probably vastly different in Japan from what you’re used to.
While it is celebrated on December 31, unlike in the West, you won’t find many people heading out for crazy partying. Instead, New Year's Eve in Tokyo is a family festival where people have time off to go to their hometown, visit their family, and engage in a whole set of traditional customs and rites.
While many of Tokyo’s shops will close early, there are still many fun shopping opportunities and in the evening, you’ll want to get ready to greet the new year. We’ve compiled the best spots in Tokyo for experiencing New Year’s customs, saturate your party craving, and get some shopping done!
* As of December 15, 2020, many countdown events - including the one at Shibuya Crossing - have been canceled due to Covid-19. 24-hour train service is being suspended for many rail operators. Information in this article is based on 2019-2020. Please check official websites for the latest information.
- Table of Contents
- 1. Zojo-ji Temple New Year’s Countdown: Celebrating under Tokyo Tower
- 2. Shibuya New Years Countdown Event
- 3. Enjoy New Year's Eve in Tokyo at Wild Countdown Parties of Shibuya and Roppongi
- 4. Port of Yokohama Countdown
- 5. Yokohama Hakkeijima Sea Paradise Countdown
- 6. Enjoying 'Everyone's New Year' at Asakusa's Hanayashiki
- 7. Kasai Rinkai Park: Diamond and Flower Ferris Wheel New Year's Eve Countdown
- 8. Experiencing the First Sunrise of the New Year
- 9. Tsukiji Hongwanji - "New Year's Bells"
- 10. Traditional New Year’s at Shrines and Temples Throughout Tokyo
- Public Transportation & Traffic on New Year’s in Tokyo
- Opening Hours of Department Stores and Shopping Malls during New Year’s
- New Year in Japan Is Different From In Other Countries
- Other Japan New Years Countdown Events
1. Zojo-ji Temple New Year’s Countdown: Celebrating under Tokyo Tower
Zojo-ji is an ancient temple that dates back to 1393, situated right at the foot of the romantic Tokyo Tower. You’re greeted by a giant, vermilion-lacquered gate called “Sangedatsumon.”
It survived the war almost unscathed and still stands as the original gate of the time of construction in the early Edo period. The temple and its ground emit a wonderfully peaceful atmosphere, but most Japanese people know it for the Tokugawa Shoguns' mausoleum.
On December 31 of every year, locals and tourists visit Zojo-ji Temple to do “hatsumode,” the traditional first shrine or temple visit of the year. The grounds start to get crowded at around 10:00 p.m. and the arrival of the new year is then celebrated by a monk ringing a bell exactly 108 times.
According to Buddhist belief, this custom is done to be cleansed of the 108 worldly desires. What may sound rather grim and formal is actually a rather joyous event, and the temple is filled with a warm, lively atmosphere.
The lit-up Tokyo Tower in the background only adds to the experience. Along with the countdown for the new year, the number of the year displayed on the famous landmark changes, making for an exciting moment and breathtaking scenery. Japan’s famous coexistence between modern and traditional can nowhere be as vividly felt as at Zojo-ji Temple.
2. Shibuya New Years Countdown Event
Shibuya Crossing is renownedly the world’s busiest crossing—but from 9:00 p.m. on December 31, the entire area will be shut down for cars and transformed into one massive outdoor countdown party!
A stage will be erected right in front of Shibuya109, so if you're looking for Tokyo New Year countdown parties, look forward to celebrating New Year’s at one of Tokyo’s most iconic locations!
3. Enjoy New Year's Eve in Tokyo at Wild Countdown Parties of Shibuya and Roppongi
If you’re looking for a classic New Year's Eve in Tokyo with a lot of drinks, dancing, and music, head to Shibuya or Roppongi. Both areas are known for their many clubs and are favorite nightlife hotspots. Shibuya tends to be more popular with the Japanese, while Roppongi tends to draw international crowds.
A lot of places in Roppongi celebrate New Year’s with loud beats from DJs and bands, loads of drinks, and a proper party atmosphere. Don’t be shy and hit the dance floor!
4. Port of Yokohama Countdown
Yokohama’s New Year’s countdown is exceptionally fun and lively because it takes place right at the port. After Japan signed a treaty of commerce with the United States in 1858, following 200 years of seclusion, Yokohama has experienced an influx of Western culture.
Although it's not necessarily a place for fireworks at midnight, a special light show and illumination will take place at Minato Mirai. Countdown cruises around the bay are also available.
Naka-ku, Yokohama-shi, Kanagawa, Nishi-ku, 220-0012
Yokohama Station （JR Tokaido Main Line / JR Yokosuka Line / JR Shonan Shinjuku Line / JR Keihin-Tohoku Line / JR Negishi Line / JR Ueno Tokyo Line / Line 3 (Yokohama Blue Line) / Tokyu Toyoko Line / Minatomirai Line / Keikyu Main Line / Sagami Railway Main Line）
- Address Naka-ku, Yokohama-shi, Kanagawa, Nishi-ku, 220-0012
5. Yokohama Hakkeijima Sea Paradise Countdown
Yokohama Hakkeijima Sea Paradise, which houses one of Tokyo's largest aquariums, and its attractions are open all night. Six of these fun attractions include the Aqua Museum, which houses some 120,000 aquatic animals; Dolphin Fantasy, an arch-shaped tunnel in which you can walk while seeing dolphins swimming around you - in addition to two other aquariums, plus Blue Fall, Japan's tallest vertical drop ride - and even the Surf Coaster Leviathan, a fantastic seaside roller coaster where you might be able to catch sight of Fuji! Enjoy these attractions and more all night long.
Also, at the stroke of midnight, enjoy the "New Year Fireworks Symphonia" where some 3,000 fireworks are set off - accompanied by music. Enjoy spending the New Year along Tokyo Bay with lively, colorful fireworks launched in the clear air of winter!
2019 Event Information
・Date: December 31, 2019 - January 1, 2020
・All night: December 31, 19:00 to January 1 8:00
*Countdown All Night Pass is available from 15:00 on December 31st
・Location: Yokohama / Hakkeijima Sea Paradise
Yokohama Hakkeijima Sea Paradise横浜・八景島シーパラダイス
- Address Hakkeijima, Kanazawa-ku, Yokohama-shi, Kanagawa, 236-0006
Hakkeijima Station (Kanazawa Seaside Line)
- Phone Number 045-788-8888
6. Enjoying 'Everyone's New Year' at Asakusa's Hanayashiki
Celebrate the New Year with fun at Japan's 'oldest amusement park,' Hanayashiki - located right next to Sensoji Temple in Asakusa. On December 31, the park will be open as normal until 6 PM, where it will briefly close and re-open at 8 PM, from which time its New Year events will be held. From the glittering lights of the 'Lumiyashiki' illumination to the live comedy show at the garden stage, it's sure to be a fun time for people of all ages. The countdown show really kicks in at 11:30 PM, and even during this time, you can enjoy the park's many attractions.
2019 Event Information
・Price: Entry + 7-Ride Unlimited Tickets, 2000 yen
・Time: December 31 from 8PM - 2AM
7. Kasai Rinkai Park: Diamond and Flower Ferris Wheel New Year's Eve Countdown
The 'Diamond and Flower Ferris Wheel' is not only the landmark of Kasai Rinkai Park but with a height of 117 meters, it's also the largest in Japan. From the top, you can get a 360-degree panoramic view, seeing such landmarks as Tokyo's Rainbow Bridge, the Aqua Line's Umihotaru, plus Tokyo Tower and Tokyo SkyTree - even possibly the top of Mt. Fuji! On December 31st it will be open all night. At a special events stage in front of the Ferris wheel, a countdown performance will be held with live performances - and even an appearance by the park's mascot characters!
2019 Event Information
・Price: Event viewing is free; Ferris Wheel ride is 700 yen
・Time: December 31, open 10AM - 8AM the following morning. Events are held from 11PM - 12:10AM
8. Experiencing the First Sunrise of the New Year
Countdown events are a popular New Year’s pastime all over the world and also in Japan. However, there’s one thing that is even more popular: watching the first sunrise of the new year. With its many skyscrapers and observation decks, Tokyo is the perfect place to do just that! As already mentioned, the Port of Yokohama is also a good choice and if you feel like venturing into nature, celebrating New Year’s on a mountain is also a beautiful option.
When is sunrise for 2021 in Tokyo?
Sunrise for Tokyo will be around 6:51AM on January 1, 2021.
Two good spots to view the sunrise
SKY CIRCUS Sunshine 60 Observatory
・Date / Time: December 31, 2019, 20:00 to January 1, 2020, 01:00
・Tickets: Limited to 1,500 people (advance tickets 1,000 people, same-day tickets 500 people)
Kasai Rinkai Park Diamond and Flower Ferris Wheel
・Date: December 31, 2019, 10:00 to January 1, 2020, 8:00 (open all night)
・Tickets: Event participation is free. Ferris wheel 700 yen (tax included)
9. Tsukiji Hongwanji - "New Year's Bells"
Enjoy the New Year in a traditional Japanese way with the "New Year's Bell," which chimes through from New Year's Eve until New Year's Day. At Tsukiji Hongwanji, you can even get a chance to be one of the 350 people who can ring the bell - but be sure to get there early! There is also a pipe organ concert and a performance of Gagaku - ancient Japanese court music and dance. Warm soba and oden will be sold in the front area which you can enjoy while watching the oriental main hall lighted up. Ring in the New Year - then taste some of its seasonal flavors!
Price: Free (1 ticket is distributed per person from 10PM on the day; first-come, first served basis; limited to 350)
Time: 10PM - 2AM
10. Traditional New Year’s at Shrines and Temples Throughout Tokyo
As already mentioned, the Japanese way of celebrating New Year’s is to visit a shrine or temple with one’s family. It is entirely different from the loud and lively fireworks and parties you might be used to.
We named Zojo-ji as an example of that, but with its closeness to Tokyo Tower and its countdown, it fuses Japanese with Western traditions. If you want the full Only in Japan experience, we highly recommend finding a charming temple close to your accommodation – it doesn’t have to be a big place at all.
Public Transportation & Traffic on New Year’s in Tokyo
In Tokyo, trains are the main means of transportation. During New Year’s, a lot of companies offer special train schedules to accommodate to partygoers and people looking to do hatsumode, the first shrine or temple visit of the year.
If you’re prepared and check the schedules beforehand, getting around at night or in the early morning will be a breeze!
*Based on information for 2019
*Based on information for 2019
Opening Hours of Department Stores and Shopping Malls during New Year’s
New Year’s is one of the best times to go on a shopping spree in Tokyo. While many shops and restaurants are closed on New Year’s Day, huge bargain and coupon campaigns start on New Year’s Eve and often continue for a couple of days.
One of the characteristics of Japanese New Year’s shopping is lucky bags called “fukubukuro.” All sorts of shops, from clothes to electronics, offer lucky bags at various prices, offering shoppers the chance to get goods worth double, triple, or sometimes tenfold the lucky bag's price! Of course, the obvious downside is that you cannot see what you buy, so it’s a fascinating bargain gamble!
*Based on information for 2019
*Based on information for 2019
New Year in Japan Is Different From In Other Countries
Unlike the huge fireworks displays and celebrations that you might find in other countries, the New Year tends to be a quieter holiday in Japan. Many people will head back to their respective hometowns and spend the holiday with family. Most of the people who remain will head to literally ring in the New Year by heading to a temple or shrine to pray for good fortune in the year ahead, while the temple bells are rung. It's a cleansing and spiritual time of year.
Shop hours tend to be shortened on New Year's Eve and on the following day, many facilities and stores will be closed or operating under holiday hours. Still, there are many fun things to do on both days - and at the beginning of the year (when 'lucky bags' are in season) you can get incredible shopping deals as well.
Whatever way you enjoy the end of this year and the beginning of the next, we hope you have a wonderful and safe holiday!
Last but not least, don’t hesitate to explore Japan’s gourmet pleasures during New Year’s. While it’s important to check the opening hours of restaurants beforehand, a lot of places, especially chain stores, operate all year round. Family restaurants, fast food chains, and ramen chains will recharge your energies after a long night of celebrating in no time!
Other Japan New Years Countdown Events
*Prices and options mentioned are subject to change.
*Unless stated otherwise, all prices include tax.
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