New Year’s in Tokyo: 10 Things To Do the First Week of 2020

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Spending the holidays in Tokyo is magical. With illuminations on every corner, the atmosphere couldn’t be more romantic. Just a few days after Christmas comes New Year’s Eve. Maybe you’ve visited your favorite temple and picked up a lucky charm. Maybe you’ve hit Shibuya for the 2020 countdown. You wake up on January 1, and head out to explore only to find that everything is…

closed.

New Year’s is the most significant holiday in Japan and is taken extremely seriously. There are special bento for at-home celebrations, hatsumode (first shrine visit of the year) and most importantly, it’s a time to spend with your family. This results in a lot of businesses and institutions closing up for a few days, or as some like to call it, Week 1.

But not all is lost. We’ve collected a few events that will carry you through January 7 and make your stay in Tokyo worth the trip. Please note that the opening hours for each venue may change.

Hatsumode and Joyasai at Meiji Shrine: New Year Celebration

Hatsumode, or first shrine visit of the year, is the traditional Japanese way to welcome the new year, and Meiji Shrine is one of the most popular locations for the event. Join over three million people during the first three days of the year to pray and purchase items such as bells and votive tablets featuring 2020’s zodiac animal.

Roppongi Hills New Year’s Celebration

To celebrate the new year, Roppongi Hills hosts a massive three-day event guaranteed to be fun for the whole family. With different events and attractions all around Roppongi Hills, you’ll be spoiled for choice, from fun games and events, which young children are bound to love, to the unveiling of new dishes and menus from surrounding stores. There will also be a ton of New Year’s sales and exclusive 2020 products to pick up while stocks last.

New Year’s Lion Dance at Tokyo Midtown

A lion dance, which is considered a New Year tradition in Japan, will be held at Tokyo Midtown from January 2–3. Lions dance to push away bad luck and bite heads while bouncing into the crowd. Being bitten on the head by a lion is regarded as good luck and means good health for the new year.

Ginza Six New Year’s

Get your first shopping fix of the year and experience authentic Japanese culture at Ginza Six. In addition to the New Year’s sale, Ginza’s high end shopping complex hosts free Noh performances, Japanese New Year cuisine, Year of the Rat goods and New Year’s lucky bags available for purchase.

Tokyu Plaza Shibuya the Sale

After its grand reopening on December 5, Tokyu Plaza Shibuya is offering a grand New Years’ sale from January 2 to January 13, 2020 with many goods offered on discounts of up to 50%. Here, Tokyoites will find 69 outlets offering their favorite brands, lifestyle and home goods and innovative dining and entertainment. There is no doubt that will be a little something for everyone at Tokyu Plaza Shibuya.

36th Matsuya Ginza Antiquarian Book Fair

Whether you’d like to add to a collection, find an unusual gift or even make an investment, this annual book fair held at the event space on the eighth floor of Matsuya Ginza has something for everyone, from rare Japanese and Western books to ukiyo-e woodblock prints and early Japanese photos, as well as other interesting printed ephemera.

Wear 47 Exhibition

Explore Japan through the fashion and local craftsmanship of all 47 prefectures at this small but rich exhibition located at Shibuya’s Hikarie. Featuring everything from textiles, design and signature items that were developed to suit the different lifestyles found between Okinawa and Hokkaido, it’s the perfect place to get a closer look at locally produced fashion goods.

Untitled, oil on canvas, 103.5 x 73 cm, 2019 Photo: Kei Okano ©2019 Izumi Kato

Izumi Kato: “Like a Rolling Snowball”

By bringing together some 100 pieces ranging from his earliest works to his latest, including never-before-shown pieces, this exhibition provides a comprehensive overview of Izumi Kato’s career spanning a quarter of a century. The human-like forms that mark Kato’s work had already begun appearing in his paintings from the mid-1990s. The juxtaposition within the museum’s expansive and symmetrical galleries of representative artworks from each part of his career makes it possible to trace the evolution of this motif and the artist’s use of materials and methods over time.

Kensaku Seki, 2:16.22, 2019 ©︎ Kensaku Seki

Tokyographie 2019

This photography festival inhabits different areas in the Tokyo metropolis and follows the spirit of the original festival, Kyotographie. Each exhibition is a revisited version of the exhibitions presented in Kyoto early in the year. Through showcasing these Japanese and international photographers, the event hopes to further promote a space for opportunities and encounters.

Trader Vic’s 45th Anniversary LAND & SEA

First established in San Francisco, Trade Vic’s has become synonymous with good food and great atmosphere. With a plethora of original cocktails and dishes, Trader Vic’s is always a great location for a good night out. To celebrate the new year Trader Vic’s is introducing their new dish – Land & Sea – taking all things delicious from both terrains and combining them in a way that highlights both.

Reservation recommended.

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