Happy New Year, cheapos! If you want to kick off the month of January with some fun, start with these events. And if you want to welcome 2022 the Japanese way, check out our post on Japanese New Year customs and traditions, such as hatsumōde (the first temple/shrine visit of the year) and hatsuhinode (seeing the first sunrise).

Note: Due to COVID-19 counter-measures, events may be canceled at any time. Always check official sites on the day before attending an event.

1. 7 Lucky Gods Pilgrimage

Lucky gods
Photo by Gregory Lane

Ring in the new year by setting off on a Seven Lucky Gods Pilgrimage—a tradition dating back to Tokyo’s Edo period to pray for blessings and wealth for the upcoming year at various temples and shrines. The pilgrimage is usually completed anytime before the 10th of January—either solo or with others. Follow this link for popular pilgrimage routes in the Yanaka, Shinjuku, Nihonbashi and Shinagawa areas.

2. January Grand Sumo Tournament

sumo in tokyo
Photo by Chris Lewis used under CC

Held every January, this is the first of Japan’s six annual sumo tournaments, known as honbasho. While the fights are broadcast on NHK, nothing beats the atmosphere of the tense final matches of the day. Tickets can be purchased online. As with all recent tournaments, there will be restrictions on capacity, so it will be harder than usual to get tickets.

3. Tokyo Auto Salon

One of the biggest car shows in the world, Tokyo Auto Salon is for anyone who is into customizing or personalising their car, or for those who enjoy seeing how other people customize their rides. The 2021 event was canceled due to COVID-19 so the 2022 salon is the first in two years.

4. Earth Garden Winter Festival

earth winter garden
Photo by iStock.com/Roman Babakin

A two-day outdoor market at Yoyogi Park where the food, workshops, and products being offered all promote ecological living—so you can feel good about going and also what you bring home. The event square will also have a stream of musical performances spanning both days.

Suggested Activity
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5. Matsuda Wintersweet Tree Festival

Photo by Matsuda Town

See a stunning display of more than 1,000 wintersweet trees and their yellow blossoms spread across Matsuda Yadoriki Park in Kanagawa Prefecture. On weekends, there are stalls selling food, local farm products, crafts and souvenirs.

(Another flowery day trip idea: Visit Atami’s plum garden for winter plum blossoms).

Bonus events: Winter illuminations

Many illumination events will continue lighting up the city well into the new year.

Best Value Flights To Tokyo

This post is updated annually. Last update: December 29, 2020.

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