Most New Years parties in Tokyo reflect the traditional customs and beliefs surrounding this very important holiday on the Japanese calendar. Tokyo itself is one of the most important cities in the entire world. It is the capital of Japan and the greater Tokyo area is the world’s most densely populated metropolitan area with around 35 to 40 million people. Given the diversity of the population and the city’s spending power, New Years Eve 2016 in Tokyo also hosts many celebrations that include balls dropping, fireworks displays, and toasts of sake and champagne. It is, however, some of the more traditional manners of celebrating the New Year that make Tokyo so special.
New Years Eve Tokyo
Many people celebrate at New Years parties in Tokyo in locations all around this bustling city. Places like Disneyland in Tokyo have spectacular celebrations that draw throngs of people to enjoy the rides, shows, and other entertainment, and of course the fireworks display—it's the source of some of the best New Years images you'll ever see. New Years Tokyo style can also mean having a big party, and many are thrown around the city. There are countdown parties like the massive one at Universal Studios in Osaka as well as the Huis Ten Bosch countdown party.
New Years Parties in Tokyo
You could also choose to watch the fireworks at Ikebukuro Sunshine City. People gather here at this tallest observatory in Tokyo watch fireworks and countdown to the New Years 2016 on New Years Eve. The next day the observatory opens at 5:30 a.m. should you so desire to make your first wish for the new year be one with an inspirational vista of Tokyo as your backdrop. The famous Tokyo Tower also hosts a massive party that is open to the general public. Fireworks are shot off at midnight and a limited number (only 80 people) get to watch the sunrise from the observatory deck of the tower, which is actually taller than the Eiffel Tower after which it is modeled.
Celebrating New Years Tokyo style means truly leaving the remnants of the old year behind in order to freshly usher in a new year. This may sound like a given, but the Japanese take this philosophy to a heightened level. In preparation for New Years Eve in Tokyo (known as “Shogatsu” or “Oshogatsu”) people deep clean their houses in order to ensure that nothing from the year before carries on into the New Year. The New Year is perhaps the most important holiday in all of Japan and this philosophy of rebirth and starting fresh is central to the thinking of the people. Years in Japan are viewed as being wholly separate from one another. New Years parties in Tokyo only take place after thoughtful preparations have been made to ensure that the holiday will be ushered in appropriately and according to custom.
Tokyo New Years Eve Image: Express Monorail (flickr)
The most popular activity tied to the celebration of New Years Eve in Tokyo is going to one of the many temples to pray, be blessed, and spend time with other people. Food and drink are often served and the more popular temples draw immense crowds. Some of the bigger temples like the Meiji Shrine draw over 1 million people over the course of New Years Eve and New Years Day. An amazing feature of New Years Tokyo is the ringing of the night watch bells at midnight. The temple bells are rung exactly 108 times starting at midnight. This longstanding tradition is vital to the overall celebration and the chimes are meant to ward off the 108 earthly desires. Once again, the celebration of New Years in Tokyo has everything to do with preparing for and being ready for the coming of the New Year. Part of this preparation means shedding earthly desires and putting oneself in a fresh and focused state of mind. Other cities such as Mexico City and Rio also put a decidedly important emphasis on the spiritual, religious, and cultural dynamics of this holiday.
Tokyo Japan is an interesting place when it comes to New Years Eve. Japan is largely westernized in many ways but maintains many very important cultural traditions surrounding the holiday. It is interesting to see how East meets West in the celebration of the coming New Year. Old traditions meet new as the Japanese say farewell to one year, and welcome to another.
Top image: OHTAKE Tomohiro (flickr), CC BY-SA 2.0