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Updated: December 16, 2022
In order to prevent the spread of coronavirus (COVID-19), various facilities around Tokyo may change their operating days or hours. In addition, some events may be canceled or postponed. Please check official facility or event websites for the latest updates and information.
You can pick up some bargains in Tokyo's January sales, and check out the authentic festivals and special events the new year has to offer.
The average temperature is around 5.4ºC (41.7°F) during the day, and can fall to 1.2ºC (34.2°F) at night, so make sure to wrap up warm. This is especially true in mid to late January. The month has just 60 mm (2.4 in) of rainfall on average, and little chance of snow. Expect around 10 hours of daylight a day.
Hatsumode is the act of offering prayers at a shrine or temple to welcome the new year. While New Year Countdown events are popular, many people visit a shrine or temple late at night on New Year's Eve, and observe the custom of hatsumode as the clock ticks past midnight, and January 1 arrives. Others visit on New Year's Day, January 2, or January 3. Meiji-jingu Shrine and Sensoji Temple are two of Tokyo's top hatsumode spots.
You can find some incredible bargains during the Tokyo January sales period. Starting from January 2, department stores across the capital sell a range of items at the cheapest prices you'll see all year. Don't know what to pick? Line up and buy a fukubukuro—a great value bag filled with mystery items.
Held annually at Torikoe-jinja Shrine, this Shinto tradition dates back centuries. Decorations bought for the New Year are burned on a bonfire—an act known as "tondo-yaki." It's said that eating mochi cooked on this fire will offer protection from illness and disaster in the year ahead.
Tucked away within Ueno Park, Ueno Toshogu Peony Garden is home to a wondrous display of peony flowers. While this garden is closed to the public for most of the year, the Fuyu Botan event grants visitors a rare opportunity to take in this garden's immaculate floral displays.
Daruma are believed to bring longevity, business prosperity, and even assistance in achieving goals. They make fantastic good luck charms, and January is the perfect time of year to pick one up. You can buy daruma at various market events held throughout Tokyo, which offer a variety of sizes and colors.
Vitality Market, Daruma Market
Ome Daruma Market
This special New Year's event—held annually on January 2—offers members of the public an opportunity to visit the grounds of the Imperial Palace, and convey good wishes to the Imperial Family for the year to come. It's a unique chance to see the Emperor, Empress, and other members of the Imperial Family, who make several scheduled appearances during the day.
Shinnen Ippan Sanga
This flea market—recognized as one of Tokyo's Intangible Folk Cultural Properties—dates back to the late 16th century. It is held over four days in total: December 15-16, and January 15-16. Back in the Meiji Period (1868-1912), scraps of fabric known as "boro" were traded at the market. Nowadays, the Setagaya Boro-ichi flea market features a wide array of vendors selling everything from food to antiques.
Grand sumo tournaments are held six times a year, once every two months. The New Year Grand Sumo Tournament is held in January, at the Ryogoku Kokugikan arena, a must-see spot for sumo fans. Spectators can even enjoy chanko-nabe—known as the food of sumo wrestlers—at a number of on-site restaurants.
Beginner's Guide to Sumo