Another year is almost over, and no doubt you’re thinking about how to spend the New Year’s celebration while you are in Japan. Christmas in Japan is very different to how it is in most Western countries; people often eat chicken and see illuminations with their partner rather than eat homemade food with their families. New Year, too, has its own traditions here. People go to shrines, give a special “otoshidama” allowance to children, and send each other New Year’s cards to wish them “Akemashite omedetou gozaimasu” or “Happy New Year.”
If you’re going to be in Japan on the 31st of December, what you decide to do will depend on your tastes. Here are three very different but equally fun experiences you can try this New Year’s Eve!
The most popular pastime for Japanese people on New Year’s Eve is to visit a shrine. People all over Japan generally visit their local shrine which can be with just a handful of people, and those in large cities visit popular shrines such as Meiji Jingu in Tokyo.
As with a usual visit to a shrine, deposit a 5 yen coin and ring the shrine’s bell before praying. On New Year’s Eve, you can make a wish for the coming year. While you’re there, you can also get hold of an omamori charm to protect you from illness and accidents. This is the most common traditional way to spend New Year’s Eve in Japan and is perfect if you’re looking for something cultural.
If you live in the city and you’re looking to party and count down to the new year around other like-minded people, there are plenty of places where you can attend some fantastic New Year events. These include the Tokyo Tower countdown, the Disney fireworks, and the ageHa nightclub in Tokyo, the Suma Aqualife Park Countdown Party in Kobe, the Universal Studios countdown and fireworks in Osaka, and the Nagashima Countdown & New Year’s Party in Nagoya.
Wrap up warm, pack up some drinks, get some friends together, and welcome the new year with some gorgeous views and exciting vibes!
— ダウンタウンのガキの使いやあらへんで！ (@gakitsukatter) November 19, 2015
Don’t feel like being outside in the cold on New Year’s Eve? Another tradition of comedy lovers is to tune in to Nippon TV’s channel 4 to watch the biggest comedy show of the year, Waratte wa Ikenai, meaning “Laughing is Forbidden.” It’s a well-loved show starring famous Osaka comedians Hitoshi Matsumoto, Masatoshi Hamada, Tsukitei (Yamazaki) Hosei, Shozo Endo, and Naoki Tanaka.
The slapstick comedy, ingenious new ways to make the stars laugh (and then get punished), and celebrity appearances in this six-hour show (showing from 6:30 PM to midnight) make it a popular way to spend New Year’s Eve without having to face the crowds at a shrine or a party.
You don’t have to be able to understand Japanese perfectly to enjoy this show because a lot of it is slapstick and easy-to-understand comedy. If you’re the type of person who would prefer to stay inside, this is a great option for you!
Japan is a great place to try brand new experiences. Make the coming of 2018 special with these three great options! Which one will you do this New Year’s Eve?