Tokyo's Thrilling “Shōgatsu” New Year's Celebrations

Shōgatsu (New Year's) in Tokyo used to be a time just for quiet reflection, but now celebrants have many more choices – from visiting a temple or shrine for the Hatsumode spiritual pilgrimage to partying at midnight with a countdown at Shibuya Crossing or a hip night club or theme park. This is in addition to slurping toshikoshi “year-end” soba noodles on New Year’s Eve, observing the Hatsuhinode (first sunrise) from a high point on New Year’s morning, and eating osechi ryori and other holiday foods on New Year’s Day. It's an exciting time indeed to visit Toyko!

On New Year’s Eve, the city's trains, which normally stop running at midnight, run for 24 hours! From as early as 8 pm on December 31 excited celebrants pour out of subway and JR stations to:

  • Join crowds at famous countdown spots or high points for fireworks viewing. Locations for countdown parties include: Shibuya Crossing (on the street)
  • Other countdown events such as at SKY CIRCUS Sunshine 60 Observation deck in Ikebukuro, night clubs and hotels throughout the city (fees vary), and theme parks such as Tokyo Joypolice in Odaiba, the Hanayashiki de Toshi Matagi Illumination countdown in Asakusa, Kasai Rinkai Park in Edogawa-ku (with Japan’s largest Ferris wheel!), and Namco NAMJATOWN in Ikebukuro. For a countdown cruise on Tokyo Bay, Symphony Luxury Lines departs from Hinode Pier, complete with buffet dinner, marching band, and spectacular views of the fireworks and landmarks such as: Rainbow Bridge, Tokyo Tower, and Tokyo Skytree (10 pm check-in to 1:20 am).

  • Slurp up bowls of toshikoshi (“the end-of-the-year-and-into-the-next” soba noodles), symbolizing the bridge between the old and new years, a custom that started in the Edo Period (1603-1868). The shape and length of soba are associated with a lean and long life, and as soba noodles are easier to cut than other noodles, eating them theoretically “cuts away bad luck.” 

  • Visit a temple (Buddhist) or shrine (Shinto) for the spiritual pilgrimage of Hatsumode - often burning talismans featuring the previous year’s zodiac sign – a ritual called Otakiage, and purchasing new ones featuring the zodiac animal of good fortune for the new year.  At the temple, they listen to the Joya-no-Kane (108 peals) of the ōgane great bell. Each ring represents one of humankind’s bonnou (evil passions/desires), which are said to be "rung away" so people can start the year on a clean slate.  

  • Observe and extol the Hatsuhinode (very first sunrise of the year) at about 5 am, often after staying up all night.

    Tokyo Skytree, Tokyo Tower
    , and the Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building host sunrise viewing parties in their observatories, but the lottery-selected guest list is very limited and not easy to get your name on. The sunrise can also be watched from 6 am at the observatory at Sunshine City in Ikebukuro.  Another option is to get outside of the city center, such as watching the sunrise from a vantage point on nearby Mount Takaoor Mount Mitake. Hotel concierges may also be able to assist with viewing arrangements. 

  • Eat osechi-ryōri, a traditional New Year’s feast set in a jūbako, an elaborate bentō-style box. Since the Heian period (794-1185), osechi-ryōri has been eaten to give thanks, ward off evil spirits, and wish for good things in the new year. Each item is symbolic, representing wishes for: longevity, fertility, purity, joy & happiness, scholarship and culture, wealth and prosperity, strength & stability, auspiciousness & celebration, career success, good fortune, and good health. 


Recommended Hatsumode Locations


Name of Temple or Shrine






Meiji Shrine

1-1 Yoyogikamizonocho, Shibuya-ku, Tokyo

5-minute walk from Harajuku Station

Meiji Shrine is usually the most popular Hatsumode destination in Tokyo and possibly in all of Japan. With more than 3 million visitors during the New Year holiday, Harajuku Station even opens an extra platform to accommodate the crowds.  On regular days, Meiji Shrine closes at 5:00 PM, but on New Year’s Eve it's open all night.

This shrine is famous as a "power spot."

Tokyo Daijingu

2-4-1 Fujimi, Chiyoda-ku, Tokyo

5-minute walk from Iidabashi Station on the Tokyo Metro Yurakucho Line, Nanboku Line, Tozai Line, Toei Subway Oedo Line

Tokyo Daijingu is a branch of Ise Grand Shrine (Mie Prefecture). It is said to be the founding shrine of the Japanese wedding ceremony. From Jan. 1-3, from 8-10 am, small, wooden wishing plaques or Ema, featuring the new zodiac, will be distributed to 1,000 first-come visitors, who purchase ofuda (sacred cards) or other charms. Also, Oshiruko, sweet red azuki bean soup with mochi (made from pounded sticky rice), will be distributed free!

Known as the home of the Enmusubi deities, symbolizing the connections between a man and a woman or "marriage."

Sensoji Temple

2-3-1 Asakusa Taito-ku, Tokyo

5-minute walk from Asakusa Station:   TOBU Skytree Line, Tokyo Metro Ginza Line, Tsukuba Express, Toei Subway Asakusa Line

Sensoji Temple will receive 2.9 million Hatsumode visitors.  At exactly midnight on New Year’s Eve, monks ring Joya-no-Kane (bells ringing out the old year).  Special Ofuda charms will be sold from Jan 1 to Jan 7.  Nakamise Dori Shopping Street, at the approach to Sensoji Temple will be decorated with special new year decorations.

(Japanese only)


Hie Shrine

2-10-5 Nagatacho, Chiyoda-ku, Tokyo

3-minute walk from Akasaka Station (Tokyo Metro Chiyoda Line Exit 2) and Tameike Sanno Station (Nanboku Line, Ginza Line Exit 7)

Hie Shrine is a beautiful, crimson shrine in Akasaka, enhanced by hundreds of red torii gates. On New Year’s Day, visitors may enter from midnight. Those who purchased Ninuriya (an arrow representing the Miwa god) can attend a Miko (shrine maiden/priestess) performance Jan. 1-3.


Shinjuku Hanazono Shrine

5-17-3 Shinjuku, Tokyo

10-minute walk from JR Shinjuku Station east exit, by Isetan department store and Kabuki-cho nightlife district.

Constructed in the Edo period by the Hanazono family, this shrine dedicated to Inari, the androgynous god of fertility and worldly success, is a favorite place for businessmen and artists to pray for successful ventures. This shrine has occupied the important position of protector of the district. On New Year’s, local percussionists, flutists, and actors perform a lion dance on an authentic Noh Stage on the shrine grounds.

(Japanese only)


Honsen-ji Temple

3-5-17, Minami-Shinagawa, Shinagawa-ku

Right in front of Aomono– Yokochou Station on the Keikyu main line, two stops from Shinagawa Station

Honsenji is a Shingon Temple, associated with the 9th-century monk Kobodaishi. At the New Year's Eve ceremony, the ringing of the bell starts from midnight, and after being rung for 108 times by the monks, visitors can ring the bell by them-selves! The Otakiage ritual, where the old luck charms are burned, starts from 11pm.

(Japanese only)


Kanda Myojin Shrine

2-16-2 Sotokanda, Chiyoda, Tokyo 

5-minute walk from Ochanomizu Station and Akihabara Station

Formally known as Kanda Jinja, the temple complex enshrines the deities for 108 Tokyo neighborhoods, including Akihabara, Kanda, Nihonbashi and Tsukiji Fish Market. For 1300 years, Tokyoites have come here to pray for success in business, good health, and happy marriage.  On New Year’s they receive 300,000 visitors, especially engineers and computer specialists, who come for the charm for the "protection and safekeeping of I.T. data." On New Year’s they also hold rice pounding/mochi-making ceremonies. ;

& (Japanese only)

The temple is famous for its large statues of: the Shinto gods Daikoku (god of great darkness) and Ebisu (god of fishermen and good fortune), and the Heian period samurai Taira-no-Masakado.

Tsukiji Honganji Temple

3-15-1 Tsukiji, Chuo-ku, Tokyo 104-8435

Hibiya Line to TSUKIJI Station (Stop H10)


O-edo Line to TSUKIJI SHIJOU Station (stop E18) and walk 7 min. towards St. Luke's Hospital.

Tshukiji Honganji, lnext to Tsukiji fish market, is a Buddhist temple of Jodo Shinshu Honganji-ha. It has unique architecture taken from Buddhist, Hindu, and Islamic styles. Every New Year's, they hold a ceremony to express gratitude for the past year and reflect on how the interdependence of all life and all things have made it possible to live through the year. This includes the Joya-no-Kane bell ringing as well as the writing of the kanji (Chinese character) of the year.  There is also Japanese food and drink, and a countdown at the temple! Doors open at 10pm.

Every 4th Saturday of each month, from 5:30 pm, this temple conducts a service in English.

Yushima Tenjin (Yushima Tenmangu)

3-30-1 Yushima, Bunkyo, Tokyo

2-minute walk from Yushima station on Chiyoda Line, 5-minute walk from Ueno-hirokoji station on Ginza Line

The shrine was originally established in the year 458. It is recognized for the spirit of the god of learning; hence students especially visit this shrine to pray for success on exams, with a total of 350,000 visitors during New Years.; (Japanese)


Yoyogi Hachimangu

5-1-1 Yoyogi, Shibuya, Tokyo

5-minute walk from Yoyogi-koen station on Tokyo Metro Chiyoda Line or Yoyogi-Hachiman station on the Odakyu Line

A historic shrine where for more than 800 years, people have worshiped the deity, “Emperor Ojin = Hachiman,” who is the god warding off evil and bringing good-luck.  It is said that the Shusse Inari shrine, in the precinct, offers divine favor in career advancement, and Yoyogi is a "power spot" for matchmaking (marriage) among young women.  On New Year's Eve, children play Ohayashi and Amazake (low alcohol unfiltered rice wine) and Zoni (soup with mochi) is served. Works of Japanese calligraphy by elementary school students are often displayed in the garden.

(Japanese only)


Zojoji Temple

4-7-35 Shibakoen, Minato-ku, Tokyo

3-minute walk from Onarimon Station or Shibakoen Station

The great main temple of the Chinzei branch of Jōdo-shū Buddhism. The main image is of Amida, the savior Buddha. On New Year's Eve from 11 pm, parishioners can observe the Otakiage ritual - the sacred burning of old paper and fabric charms and Buddhist mortuary tablets, take part in the annual Joya-no-Kane grand bell-ringing ceremony, and enjoy food stalls, traditional hot sake, and mochi (rice cake) pounding demonstrations. The temple also offers a perfect vantage point for viewing the illuminations at Tokyo Tower.

Street stalls at Zojoji Temple remain through Jan 3rd.

Ikegami Honmonji Temple

1-1-1 Ikegami, Ota-ku, Tokyo

10-minute walk from Ikegami Station

A Buddhist Temple of the Nichiren sect, is home to the oldest five-story-pagoda in the Kanto region of eastern Japan. Built in 1607, it is an Important cultural property. After passing through the main gate, visitors need to climb 96 "steps of social success" to Soshido Hall and Nio Gate. On New Year’s, visitors can purchase Japanese food & drink, listen to the 108 Joya-no-Kane bells, and countdown at the temple!

It is notable that many buildings in Ikegami Honmonji Temple complex are important cultural properties.

Zenpuku-ji Temple

1-6-21, Motoazabu, Minato-ku

A 5-minute walk from Namboku Line Azabu-Juban Station


a 10-minute walk from Oedo Line Azabu-Juban Station

Also known as Azabu-san, this Buddhist Temple in Tokyo's Azabujuban district is more than 830 years old, but it is most renowned for its 750-year-old gingko tree, located at the nearby cemetery entrance. It's the largest ginkgo in Tokyo and registered as a National Natural Monument. On New Year's Eve, it's one of the few central temples where visitors can ring the bell themselves in the Joya-no-Kane ceremony.



1-22-22 Himonya,
Meguro 152-0003 Tokyo

Meguro Station, west exit. Then Tokyu bus - stop # 3 towards Ookayama Shogakko, get off at Himonya-Nichome. Or Gakugei-Daigaku Station (Tokyu Toyoko line), 20-min walk

Visitors will enjoy a mixture of old and new traditions. Colorful images, including pictures drawn by children, are projection-mapped onto the temple. There are five free showings scheduled for New Year's Eve: 21.00, 21.30, 22.00, 22.30 and 23.00. From 23.30 they will ring the Joya-no-Kane temple bell 108 times.

(Japanese Only)

Founded in the year 853, the main hall of Enyuji is the oldest wooden structure in the 23 wards of Tokyo.

Takaosan Yakuoin Temple

2177 Takao-machi, Hachioji City, Tokyo

From Shinjuku Station, take the Keio Line Special Exp for Keio-Hachioji Station and switch for the Keio Tako Line for Takaosanguchi (total just under 1 hour). At Takao-sanguchi, take the cable car, lift or walk 20 minutes.

About an hour west of central Tokyo, Mt. Takao, at nearly 2,000 ft, offers a panoramic view of the city -- lit up at night and glowing naturally at sunrise. Takaosan Yakuoin is closely associated with tengu - legendary creatures from Japanese folklore, a type of yōkai - supernatural being. The temple specifically features tengu amulets or omamori for the new year. Additionally, from midnight til 5 PM, temple monks conduct Goma fire rituals in front of the image of Izuna Daigongen in the Main Hall, to wish for health, happiness, and good fortune in the coming year.

Mt. Takao is a popular destination to view Hatsu-hinode, the first sunrise of the year. At dawn, the mountain summit reverberates with the sound of conch shells blown by Yamabushi -mountain monks, who also recite sutras, in a ceremony called Geikosai, welcoming the light.

For more information on seasonal and year-round travel to Tokyo, visit the Tokyo Convention and Visitors Bureau's (TCVB) website at  Also check out the Tokyo City brand site:

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