New Year’s Eve in Tokyo
This year Tokyo could be an interesting destination to celebrate the 2019, since it is a metropolis that combines tradition and innovation, thus meeting the taste of many people. Not everyone may know that in Japan the New Year’s Eve runs from 1 to 3 January, and is a moment entirely dedicated to the family and cults of the past, which make this Japanese party much more intimate than we celebrate in the rest of the world.
One of the typical elements of the Japanese New Year’s Eve is food, especially enhanced through the Osechi cuisine, bearer of a symbolic meaning and that is savored only at this time of year. Traditionally you eat with the family, but if you are here on holiday during this period, you can buy special sets to take away prepared by local chefs. Furthermore, in some hotels, from 1 to 3 January, buffets are available offering a fusion of Osechi and Western cuisine, buffets open also to external customers.
Another symbolic food of Japan that is eaten on New Year’s Eve is Toshikoshi-Soba, used to wish long life and to drive away bad luck. Moreover at the Hotel Chinzanso you will find a Shinto shrine in the hotel garden, and the staff offers a shuttle service to visit the most important Shinto shrines and Buddhist temples in the city, following the Japanese tradition called hatsumode (“first visit of the year”).
Some Japanese go to the places of worship for the occasion wearing the traditional kimono, and if you want to try this experience the Hotel Hoshinoya Tokyo gives you the opportunity, offering a special rental service between 1 and 3 January and dressing with the traditional dress. This hotel will also organize many other traditional themed activities, such as the ceremony of sake otoso, a special variety with the addition of spices, which is drunk during the New Year celebrations to purify from the ailments of the past year and aspire to a long-lived life, or by placing a pine at its entrance to welcome benevolent spirits.
Another symbol of New Year’s Eve is rice, in the mochi variant: it is possible to attend and experience the mochitsuki (“homemade mochi”) ceremony at Hotel New Otani, which offers a special package for tourists to attend shows such as the traditional Lion Dance “Shi Shi-mai” that brings good luck, try many other experiences with assistance in English (such as calligraphy workshops) and taste traditional osechi cuisine.
As everyone knows, in the land of the rising sun, the sun naturally assumes a special symbolism. On January 1st, in particular, it is traditional for the Japanese to witness the sunrise from scenic spots, a truly highly recommended experience of singular peace and mysticism. Tokyo Tower organizes for the occasion a special opening of the observation platform at 150 meters from 6 am, as well as many other events dedicated to New Year’s Eve, including special illuminations and activities inside the tower itself.
For lovers of traditional Japanese art ukiyo-e, The Sumida Hokusai Museum, dedicated to the iconic artist Katsushika Hokusai, organizes an exhibition that collects the works of the master-themed “divinity”. On January 3, the museum also hosts a re-enactment of the historical kitsune-odori, the “dance of the fox”, an ancient dance typical of the Edo period, which danced in Tokyo for the New Year’s Eve with a musical accompaniment through the streets of the city, and that the artist Hokusai himself has portrayed in his “Panoramic Views along the Banks of the Sumida River”.