Saturday, 1 January 2011

New Years Day in Tokyo City


Our final day for getting out and about - so we just went wherever luck took us.  Year 2011 - the year of the Rabbit.... this one was a store window size cut out, just one paper fold down the middle of the sheet; every window had a different style of paper cut out - a fabulous display of craftwork.

Another amazing paper cutout - thought this might be a nice touch for weddings; instead of the usual flowered archway, the bridge and groom could burst through something similar to this?

A New Years celebratory dragon

The queue for equivalent of our  'Currys' store - it wove all around the building and back towards the next building block! 

And the queue at the front for the checkouts was just about the same..

A masked statue in front of the National Theatre

The entrance to the TOEI cinema in Shibuya where we watched our second Japanese film; the cinema was on floor 7, the rest of the floors consisted of shops, food chains, amusement arcades, offices, etc.

The film we watched: Aibou (

Yasukuni Jinja shrine entrance; part of the queue leading up to the shrine where visitors were still patiently awaiting their New Year blessings.  These were people seriously taking part in their New Year traditions, not just tourists seeking photo opportunities - we did not try to get close to the inner shrine

One of the banners hanging on the outer shrine entrance

A view above the crowd through to the inner shrine where people take their blessings, and say their prayers.  I'm not sure of the significance, but arrows were being given by the shrine as thanks?

Just one of the many food stalls leading up to the shrine.  It seems that as well as celebrating traditional beliefs, the celebration of food runs parrallel.  The food stalls were a combination of delicacies such as 'a fish on a stick', the sweet variety of 'chocolate coated banana on a stick', noodles, fish dishes, shredded cabbage with pancacke, etc... the list just goes on.... The smell, chatter and general goings on were an absolute delight.  We did partake in a bowl of noodles (our first experience of eating alfresco with chopsticks!) - I think we've got the hang of it, just in time to be going home.  

New Year Eve Celebrations in Tokyo

Purely in the interest of journalism, we thought it might be a good exercise to travel around the different areas of Tokyo to experience the build up to the countdown to New Years. We're not particularly ones for standing around waiting for an event, so this sorted us fine ... and it certainly was an eye opener.

Our first port of call was to the world famous Roppongi crossroads at around 22:15hrs. At this time the crossroads looked quieter than it had been at 15:00 earlier that day. Everyone is tucked away in their restaurants, karaoke bars and clubs etc. Our informants report that the streets start to fill up at around 23:30. as the young and trendy pour out of the bars to welcome in the New Year. It should be noted (IMHO) that this area is good for young locals and tourists (there are lots of tourists in clicky groups)  who are in groups of more than 4. I'm assuming that for the more mature couples it will be a little bit under-whelming and they might like to try our next option.

Earlier in the day we visited Asakusa area of Tokyo and their was already a sense of excitement in the air. Because New Year is a religious celebration in Japan it is customary to get blessed at a shrine or temple before you begin your New Year Day celebrations. The Sensoji temple is a welcoming and deeper experience than the Roppongi celebrations.

Prior to the countdown we also visited the Hibiya and Ginza area's that a visitor might expect to be celebrating hard ... not a soul on the streets at 23:30.

Surprisingly, the subway was quiet, filled with those people returning home from a last minute shopping trip or from work. Everyone calm and certainly nobody showing the effects of drink.

We managed to finnish the tour by 23:50 and ended up at the Tokyo Dome / Aqua centre, which was hosting a super popular rock concert where 50000 screaming fans had battled to get in earlier this evening. A more muted New Year Celebration was happening in the City of Lights area, with the stage set with a singer and a small audience of 150 - 200 people awaiting the countdown ...

So in the end we celebrated with a KFC bargain bucket and a bottle of wine ... and the satisfied feeling that we are helping future tourists find the right New Years path for them.

Happy New Year everyone ... Our Last Day tomorrow, so we're starting to feel a bit low now :-(