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New Year in Tokyo

Ninjinsan

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Hello!

I'll be going to Tokyo in late December/early January. Are there any suggestions on visiting Tokyo during this time of the year as well as spending New Year Eve ?

I've heard it will be crowded and some museums will close, but unfortunately I can only go around these dates. Nevertheless, I'm excited and looking forward to have a good time!
 

Majestic

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Hello,
The New Year holiday season lasts longer in Japan than it does in the west. It lasts for several days, with almost all shops closed on the 1st, and then more shops gradually opening days later. Everything will be business as usual by the 5th or 6th. Some department stores open for "New Year's Day sales" on the 2nd...In general, you can expect the city to be very quiet for a few days - definitely not crowded except for a few pinpoint areas. Bars and restaurants (except for fast food) will be shut. Many people leave the city to go back to their hometowns or the wives/husbands hometowns. Public transportation will work on slightly different schedules. Trains leaving Tokyo will be crowded starting on the 31st and 1st (I'm talking mostly about the shinkansen trains - so if you planned on travelling by shinkansen you should get your tickets in advance). The normal commuter trains around Tokyo shouldn't be a huge problem since nobody will be using them for work or school.
Meiji shrine will be busy with people coming to the shrine to pray for the new year. Well, "busy" is an understatement. It will be a throng of humanity crowding to get into the shrine - so be careful of the Omotesando/Harajuku area around the 1st. The Imperial Palace also opens up for a few days during New Year, so the stations around the palace may be busy. You will need to check the website of the museum you are planning to visit to know if they are open or not. The Tokyo National Museum at Ueno, for example, is closed the week prior to New Year's Day, and it is closed New Year's Day itself, but then it opens from the 2nd. TOKYO NATIONAL MUSEUM -
In general, except for Meiji shrine and the Palace, Tokyo is amazingly boring during New Year. A good time to catch up with friends, sleep in, clean behind the refrigerator, etc... but for me a bit anti-climatic..
 

PatrickNZ

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Maybe I was in a different Tokyo for New Year (as I was in/around the city for several weeks across the Christmas and New Year period.) Busy - yes. Not noticeably less crowded apart from the places that do shut across the New Year break. The TV news reports I saw about the crowding at the airports and unavailability of hotel rooms on 31Dec do not suggest the place empties out, and a lot of people visit Tokyo as it is their hometown.
It was the same amazing place as most other days and we had some tour guests from Australia that were completely happy with everything that remained open across the week (the city doesn't shut down like it does in other places I know.)
 

Ninjinsan

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@PatrickNZ and @Majestic


Thank you very much for your opinion! I was just wondering if there is something special happening in the city, I hope it won’t be too anticlimactic.

I work in architecture so I would like to see and visit some buildings. I have checked, many places will reopen after the 1st January so it should be fine.
 

Majestic

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Check out the imperial palace, then. It is only open a few days during the year - New Year's Day being one of them. That is interesting for sure. And you can see some Edo-period architecture, as well as the palace.
 
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