Christmas & New Year’s in Japan

This item appears on page 84 of the December 2008 issue.
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In Japan, Christmastime has some Western-style decorations, with many cities displaying elaborate light shows and tree decorations, but many Japanese celebrate Christmas on the 24th rather than the 25th.

For young couples, Dec. 24 is the most romantic day of the year, while many families go to Kentucky Fried Chicken for their dinner and later have a Christmas cake that can cost $20 or more.

New Year’s Eve is rather quiet, with no big fireworks celebrations or crazy parties.

On the first three days of the new year, most people go to a temple or shrine to witness a ringing of the bell (108 times) and to make an offering or prayer for the hatsumode (new year). Some of the popular temples, like Meiji Shrine in Shibuya ward and Sensoji Temple in Asakusa ward, both in Tokyo, have waits in line of two hours or more.

For info, contact the Japan National Tourist Organization (Los Angeles, CA; 213/623-1952, www.jnto.go.jp or www.japantravelinfo.com).

Please login or subscribe to ITN to read the entire post.

In Japan, Christmastime has some Western-style decorations, with many cities displaying elaborate light shows and tree decorations, but many Japanese celebrate Christmas on the 24th rather than the 25th.

For young couples, Dec. 24 is the most romantic day of the year, while many families go to Kentucky Fried Chicken for their dinner and later have a Christmas cake that can cost $20 or more.

New Year’s Eve is rather quiet, with no big fireworks celebrations or crazy parties.

On the first three days of the new year, most people go to a temple or shrine to witness a ringing of the bell (108 times) and to make an offering or prayer for the hatsumode (new year). Some of the popular temples, like Meiji Shrine in Shibuya ward and Sensoji Temple in Asakusa ward, both in Tokyo, have waits in line of two hours or more.

For info, contact the Japan National Tourist Organization (Los Angeles, CA; 213/623-1952, www.jnto.go.jp or www.japantravelinfo.com).