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What to Do During the New Year Holidays in Nagoya

The New Year holiday, known as “Oshogatsu” in Japan, is one of the most significant and widely celebrated occasions in Japanese culture. It is a major holiday in Japan, and many locals celebrate it with their families. As a result, public transportation tends to be crowded with locals going back home to spend the holiday with their families and a lot of businesses, especially smaller shops and family-owned shops, public establishments, and museums may close for a few days around New Year’s Day.

This might sound like a setback to your amazing travel plans in Japan, but actually, it can be reframed into an amazing opportunity to experience another side of the Japanese culture and enjoy a few slower days to make up for your jam-packed schedule around Japan.

So if you find yourself during the New Year holidays in Nagoya, what could be more authentic than immersing yourself in the local experience? Let’s explore all the available options in the city to ensure you make the most of the year-end festivities like a local.

Joya no Kane: Ringing the New Year’s Bell

Just before midnight, Buddhist temples ring their bells 108 times. This is believed to purify the people from the 108 worldly desires or sins and is known as “Joya no Kane”. Many people visit temples to participate in this ritual.

In Nagoya, several of the biggest Buddhist Temples have bell-ringing events on New Year’s Eve where the public can take part for a very small fee (usually ranging from 100 to 1000 yen/person). The one held in Osu Kannon Temple is one of the most vibrant ones, but if you dare to venture a bit out of the beaten path, we recommend you take part in the Koshoji Temple event.

Ringing the New Year’s Bell at Koshoji Temple. Image via koushoji.or.jp

This temple, situated just a few minutes away from Yagoto Station, welcomes visitors to ring the Buddhist bell to ward off evil, express gratitude for the passing year, and offer prayers for a serene New Year. Taking part only costs 100 yen and includes a wooden stick for writing your prayer before burning.

Koshoji Temple (八事山興正寺)
Hours: Reception for bell ringing starts at 11:00 pm on Sun, Dec 31, 2023
Price: 100 yen
Address: 78 Yagotohonmachi, Showa Ward, Nagoya, Aichi 466-0825
Website (Japanese Only) | Google Maps

Hatsumode: First Visit to the Shrine in the New Year

In the first few days of the new year, people make visits to Shinto shrines (and sometimes Buddhist temples as well) for Hatsumode, to pray for good fortune and health in the coming year. Popular shrines, like Meiji Shrine in Tokyo, and Ise Shrine in Mie, attract large crowds.

In Nagoya, the tradition of Hatsumode, is a cultural and spiritual experience deeply ingrained in the local community. Nagoya’s Atsuta Shrine is Japan’s second most revered Shinto shrine after the great Shrine of Ise. The sun goddess Amaterasu is enshrined here, as well as being home to the sacred sword Kusanagi-no-tsurugi which is one of the three Japanese imperial treasures.

Atsuta Matsuri
Atsuta Shrine during a summer festival

The atmosphere you’ll experience at Atsuta Shrine during the New Year celebrations will be memorable. Dozens of food stalls line the entrances, and thousands of people gather to offer their prayers—you’ll definitely forget about the cold.

The busiest time is usually from around 11 pm on New Year’s Eve to about 3 am on New Year’s Day. Things calm down a bit after that, but it gets busy again during the day. If you’re eager to visit on New Year’s Day but not a big fan of crowds, the best time is from 5 am to 7 am when it’s less crowded. Even though it remains busy during the day, the evening is a friendlier time to swing by the shrine.

Atsuta Jingu (熱田神宮)
Opening Hours: 24 hs
Address: 1-1-1 Jingu, Atsuta Ward, Nagoya, Aichi 456-8585
Website | Google Maps

Hatsuhinode: Watching the First Sunrise of the New Year

Witnessing the first sunrise of the year, known as Hatsuhinode, is another popular tradition that symbolizes new beginnings and hope. People gather at scenic spots with unobstructed views to welcome the dawn of the New Year.

As the sun emerges on the horizon, participants celebrate the symbolic renewal and the promise of a fresh start. Sharing this serene moment with fellow residents and visitors creates a sense of unity and optimism, making this ritual a beautiful and communal way to commence the year.

Sunrise over Nagoya from Nagoya Mirai Tower, image via Nagoya TV Tower

These are the most popular places in Nagoya to enjoy the first sunrise of the year:

Chubu Electric Power Mirai Tower

At the newly renovated Chubu Electric Power Mirai Tower (former Nagoya TV Tower) you can experience the sunrise from the Sky Deck at 90 meters and the Sky Balcony at 100 meters, both indoor and outdoor observation points.

Chubu Electric Power Mirai Tower First Sunrise
Entry Fee:
3300 yen – Available by reservation only. Same-day tickets unavailable.
Event Date:
Jan 1. 2024 6:00-8:00
Address:
3-6-15 Nishiki, Naka Ward, Nagoya, Aichi 460-0003
Website
(Japanese only) | Google Maps

Sky Promenade

Midland Square’s Sky Promenade, the tallest outdoor observation deck in the Tokai region, is another perfect spot to witness the first sunrise of the year in Nagoya. Located in one of the city’s prominent skyscrapers, it offers a breathtaking view, making it a must-visit destination for a memorable New Year’s experience.

Please note that same-day tickets are not available, so we recommend you buy your tickets in advance here.

Sky Promenade (屋外展望台 スカイプロムナード)
Entry Fee:
2200 yen – Available by reservation only. Same-day tickets unavailable.
Event Date:
Jan 1. 2024 5:30-8:30
Address:
4-7-1 Meieki, Nakamura Ward, Nagoya, Aichi 450-0002, floors 44–46 (entrance on floor 42) of the Midland Square Office Building
Website
(Japanese only) | Google Maps

Nagoya Castle Winter Festival

Nagoya Castle never fails to attract and entertain crowds, and the New Year is yet another reason to visit. Even though the Castle’s main tower is currently under renovation, the absolute highlight of Nagoya Castle is the recently finished Honmaru Palace, which is the main reason Nagoya Castle is much more impressive than other castles you can find around Japan. The best way to explore Nagoya Castle is by taking a leisurely stroll around the whole complex with its many buildings and sights. Take a look at this article to learn everything about the castle’s past and present.

The Nagoya Castle Winter Festival is held from early to mid-January, and you can enjoy various events such as the opening of the gate for the first time, Shachi Shokudo where you can enjoy the New Year’s menu, and a lively celebratory dance performed by the Seven Lucky Gods to celebrate the New Year among several other events and performances.

Nagoya Castle (名古屋城)
Entry Fee: Adults 500 yen; adults over 65 100 yen; children free
Event Date:
Jan 1st to Jan 8th, 2024 9:00-16:30
Address:
1-1 Honmaru, Naka Ward, Nagoya, Aichi 460-0031
Website
(Japanese Only) | Google Maps

Winter Illumination at Nabana No Sato

Nabana no Sato is a flower park in Kuwana, Mie Prefecture. It is visited by thousands of travelers because of the award-winning winter illumination taking place there every year. It might just be the most popular winter illumination in Japan, and it is definitely the best illumination in Central Japan.

Nabana no Sato’s Tunnel of Light

The highlight of Nabana no Sato is the illumination show which has a different theme every year, but we have a full-length article about all the other wonderful things that can be seen and done at Nabana no Sato, read it here. If you are planning on visiting during the New Year Holiday, we recommend you book your bus tour here in advance, as public transportation will be running on Holiday Schedule during this season.

If you are looking for options to see winter illumination without leaving the city, take a look at this article where we have put together a list of the best ones around Nagoya.

Nabana no Sato (なばなの里)
Opening hours: During Illumination season 10:00 to 21:00 (on some days until 22:00)
Price: Adults 2500 yen (including 1,000 yen consumption voucher), children under 6 free
Note: opened during the New Year holidays. Price and hours differ during the Christmas Special Event, which requires purchasing tickets in advance.
Address:  Urushihata 270, Nagashimacho Komae, Kuwana, Mie 511-1144
Website (Japanese only) | Google Maps

Embracing Tradition at Osu Kannon

Looking for a place rich in history, with a great atmosphere and excellent food to visit during the New Year holiday in Nagoya? Then look no further than Osu Shopping District.

We recommend you start by visiting Osu Kannon Temple, revered as one of Japan’s three major Kannon temples, which stands proudly as a symbol of the vibrant Osu district. This sacred site is a must-visit during the festive season, attracting over 500,000 visitors within the first three days of the year.

A quiet morning at Osu Kannon Temple

Despite only part of the shops being open during this holiday, the bustling atmosphere adds to the celebration, creating a lively and dynamic experience for all who venture to Osu Kannon during this time. Another fun traditional activity is buying your omamori (New Year’s lucky charm) and taking the first omikuji (fortune slip) of the year.

Be prepared to experience long lines, but fortunately, the arcade structure shields visitors from the chill. Moreover, you can feel the warmth of tradition and culture as you savor delicious street food and shop for the most interesting souvenirs. Read this article to learn all about the best spots to visit for food and shopping.

Osu Kannon (大須観音)
Entry fee: free
Opening Hours: 6:00 – 19:00
Address: 
2-21-47 Osu, Naka Ward, Nagoya, Aichi 460-0011
Website (Japanese only) | Google Maps

Hatsuuri and Fukubukuro: New Year Shopping Fun Unleashed

Shopping during the New Year holiday in Nagoya? Why not! As the New Year dawns in Japan, the cultural spectacle of hatsuuri (literally: first sale) and the excitement of fukubukuro (lucky bags) combine to create a very unique shopping experience.

Hatsuuri, symbolizing the inaugural sale of the year, calls shoppers to various retail havens with enticing discounts and promotions. Traditionally it used to begin on January 4th although in recent years has started to gradually move to January 1st, so it aligns perfectly with the spirit of fresh beginnings. But the real thrill lies in the mysterious allure of fukubukuro, the beloved “lucky bags.”

These bags, sold at a set price, conceal undisclosed treasures, tempting buyers to unravel surprises and test their luck. With contents often exceeding the bag’s value, fukubukuro embodies the essence of luck and fortune, resonating with the vibes of the New Year.

We recommend checking your favorite Japanese brands a few days beforehand to ensure whether they are offering one of these options, allowing you to snatch a good bargain and kick off the year in style. Want some tips and advice for shopping in Nagoya? Check out this article.

Public Transportation in Nagoya During the New Year Holidays

During the year-end and New Year holidays, there will be notable changes in public transportation operations in Nagoya. Here’s what you should know:

  • The Nagoya sightseeing route bus “Meguru” will be temporarily suspended from December 29th to January 3rd.
  • City buses, on the other hand, will follow Sunday and holiday schedules during this period, excluding late-night buses, which will be temporarily suspended. Some routes will also adopt a special New Year schedule from January 1st to 3rd, as outlined in this article (Japanese only) by the Nagoya City Transportation Bureau.
  • Subway services will see adjustments as well:
    • The Higashiyama Line will operate on Sunday and holiday schedules on December 29th and 30th, shifting to a New Year’s holiday schedule from December 31st to January 3rd.
    • All other subway lines, excluding the Kamiida Line, will operate on Saturday, Sunday, and holiday schedules.
    • An exception to the usual subway operation is on December 31st, when all subway lines (except the Kamiida Line) will run all night.
    • To facilitate travel, various ticket options, such as the One-day ticket, Donichi Eco Kippu, and the 24-hour subway ticket for all lines, will be available on holiday price from December 29th to January 3rd, allowing passengers to navigate the city seamlessly during the holidays.

To learn more about how to get around the city, read our complete guide to public transportation in Nagoya here.

New Year Holiday Schedule: Operating Hours for Nagoya City’s Main Attractions at a Glance

12/2812/2912/3012/3101/0101/0201/0301/04
Nagoya CastleOXXXOOOO
Tokugawa GardenOXXXXOOO
Atsuta ShrineOOOOOOOO
Osu Kannon TempleOOOOOOOO
Shirotori GardenOXXXXXXO
Higashiyama Zoo and Botanical Gardens OXXXXOOO
Nabana No SatoOOOOOOOO
LegolandOOOOOOOO
Port of Nagoya Public AquariumOOOOOOOO
Toyota Commemorative Museum of Industry and TechnologyOXXXXXXO
Nagoya City Science MuseumOXXXXXXO
Tokugawa MuseumXXXXXXXX
SCMAGLEV and Railway ParkOXXXXOOO

This post was last updated in December 2023
Although we strive to provide you with the most accurate and up-to-date information possible, please note that changes may occur nonetheless. We recommend you confirm any relevant information such as event cancelations or changes, opening hours, or possible restrictions using a direct source. Please keep in mind that these sources might be in Japanese only.


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About the author

In love with Japan and its amazing food, Lena wants to share her passion with the world. Her goal is to make everyone interested in Nagoya, her adoptive home, online through her writing and offline through unique food tours.

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