See in the Japanese-style New Years, visiting a temple to see the sunrise on January 1.
Oshogatsu or New Year is the biggest celebration in the Japanese calendar; a time of spirituality, family, and auspicious new beginnings. The year is best started with a visit to a shrine or temple when the clock strikes midnight on January 1. Huge bells are rung as the Japanese line up to say the first important prayer of the year; a pilgrimage known as hatsumode. Tokyo’s Meiji Shrine is a very popular place for hatsumode, while in Kyoto thousands of people flock to Yasaka Shrine or climb the tunnels at the gate of the Fushimi Inari Red Shrine. January 1 is the most important day; a day that will forecast next year, so it should be used calmly, peacefully and quietly, no hangover for the Japanese!
Many of the traditions surround New Years celebrations, including the sending of New Years cards and the enjoyment of special dishes like mochi rice cakes and toshikoshi soba noodles that symbolize longevity. Visits to the shrine and temple continue through January 3 and many businesses and restaurants are closed at this time. This may make it a bit difficult for tourists, but it won’t cause too much trouble in big cities. Hotels are booked early for the New Year, as the Japanese love to travel around their own country, so if you want to visit Japan at this time of year, be sure to plan ahead.
When to go: The Japanese celebrate the New Year at the same time as in the West, and January 1-3 is usually national holidays.