New Year: Celebrate 2023 in Japan!

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New Year: Celebrate 2023 in Japan!


It may be hard to believe, but 2022 is already coming to a close. We hope this last year has been a happy, healthy one for your family.

And as you enjoy these final weeks of December and the holiday season in Tokyo, remember to save time and energy for celebrating the new year! Keep reading for some of the CareFinder team's favorite ways to ring in 2023.

Japanese New Year Traditions

As in many cultures, the new year in Japan is symbolic of a fresh start, and its traditions — many of which date back centuries — reflect this belief (and some are just fun!).

You'll likely find kagami mochi available for purchase in many shops, or you may even want to attempt your own at home. These simple, beautiful treats are meant to be eaten later in the month of January; until then, place them in your living room or entrance as festive decorations, where the two mochi cakes represent the current year and the next.

Stay up until the clock nears midnight to hear the ringing of bells from the nearest temple or plan ahead to listen at one of Tokyo's top bell-ringing spots. In the Buddhist tradition, the temple bell will be rung a total of 108 times, beginning shortly before the official transition into the new year. Each ring represents a "worldly desire" and is meant to clean the slate for the year ahead.

If you want to stay up late but prefer to stay in, there is always Kohaku Uta Gassen! This annual New Year's Eve entertainment is a live music competition the whole family will enjoy. The lineup for the 2022 show includes a couple of breakout K-Pop bands, as well as Japanese rockstars and an animated singer. The Red team has won two years in a row; will they continue the streak? Find out on NHK beginning at 7:20 pm.

For a double-dose of Japanese New Year tradition, your (adventurous) family can trek to Mt. Takao for an overnight ceremony on New Year's Eve. Beginning at midnight, numerous rituals using fire are performed at Yakuo-in in an appeal for health and happiness in the year ahead. Conch shells are blown at sunrise, signaling hatsuhinode.

You may be familiar with hatsumode, the first visit to a shrine in the new year. Well, if you don't mind the lines and are hoping for extra good fortune in 2023, your family can take a crack at Shichifukujin Meguri, a pilgrimage in search of seven lucky gods. There are several routes you can take to achieve this goal; this round-up from Tokyo Cheapo is a great place to start.

Enjoy a bonfire and clear out unwanted decorations or overdue bills at the Torigoe Shrine for tondo-yaki on January 8. The ritual begins with a large pile of straw and onlookers are encouraged to toast mochi cakes on the flames, as they're believed to bring about — you guessed it! — good luck in the new year.

Grown Up Celebrations

While the New Year holiday in Japan is traditionally one spent with family, some outside influences have infiltrated the celebrations over the years. Specifically, the countdown party! Tokyo hosts numerous soirees, ranging from the upscale to the raucous, if you'd prefer to spend the night out, schedule a sitter and check out the below events.

Grand Hyatt Tokyo Festive New Year Dinner

Countdown Japan 22/23

Womb's New Year Countdown to 2023

Kimpton Shinjuku Tokyo Fabulous Countdown Party

Liquidroom New Year Party

Conrad Tokyo 2023 Countdown Party with Perrier-Jouet


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