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Suggestions on spending the New year hols, onegai'ne...


15 Mar 2002
Hi everyone
I would like to have some advice from the forum members.
I have a 9 day holiday for the new year, and I am here alone in Japan. I want to spend the new year hols in a really enjoyable manner.
So, I was planning to go to Osaka,Nara,Kyoto and Kobe for around 4 days, and the remaining...well, I do not know. Will it be too crowded or the wrong time to go to these places?

I am not in Tokyo, but in Mishima, Shizuoka prefecture. Could you please throw in your ideas and suggestions as to what I can do and help me out?

I wish I had a girlfriend to roam around with, but unfortunately, mada hitorigurashi nanode...zannennagara..........

I want to enjoy the taste of Japanese new year to the best.

Travel at that time of the year isn't usually too bad (as Christmas is tradtionally not celebrated but the New Year is) although it really depends I guess on what kind of itinerary you want to set for yourself. With only nine days, I think you should have plenty of things to see and do in the areas you mentioned without going anywhere else unless you only want to spend a little time exploring each stop.
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Keep in mind a lot of stores take longer vacations (not opening until the 3rd or 4th of January) around New Years too and I hope you have already made your hotel reservations for the big cities. Just go being ready for lots of people and travel delays.

If you want a big Japanese New Years, ask your co-workers which temples and shrines in Kyoto have famous events or goings-on on the night of the 31st. It is traditional to stay up until 0:00 and make the first visit of the new year to a shrine. At famous shrines the crowds can be big, but it makes for a wonderful time, often with warm sake and foods to be had. At Buddhist temples they ring a bell 108 times (if I recall), and the really famous temples and shrines in Kyoto will of course be doing something.

I haven't spent a New Years in Kyoto, but you can walk from Kyomizu-dera up to around Shijyo dori where there is a famous shrine (name escapes me). You can do the walk in about 40 minutes, and there are shrines and temples along the route so there should, in theory, be lots to see. That is just what springs to mind, but perhaps someone who has spent a New Years in Kyoto can point oout some better spots.

If you get really lucky, a Japanese friend or family will invite you to stay with them over the holidays, and this would be the best way to get a taste of Japanese New Years. New Years is a very family-oriented holiday.
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