Happy New Year, cheapos! If you want to kick off the New Year with some fun, start 2017 right with these events. (And if you want to welcome 2017 the Japanese way, don’t forget to check out our post on Japanese New Year customs and traditions, such as hatsumode (the first temple/shrine visit of the year) and hatsuhinode (seeing the first sunrise).
1. New Year Haneda Edo Festival (Jan. 1-3)
Where: Haneda Airport International Passenger Terminal (access: Haneda Airport International Terminal Station)
Time: 11:00 am-7:00 pm
Haneda Airport is definitely more than that other gateway to Tokyo—in fact, it’s been highly rated by SKYTRAX, an air transport rating institution, for a few years now. It’s not surprising then that Haneda Airport’s management would like to promote it—which is why the airport has had a few Edo festivals for the past few years. This time, the Edo festival will be held to celebrate the New Year, so if you want to experience traditional Japanese culture, head on over to Haneda Airport—which, unlike Narita, is in Tokyo, so it shouldn’t be that difficult to get to.
Prepare to be transported back in time as you witness a samurai and geisha parade, typical Edo-era street performances, stage performances, crafts workshops, and more. You can look the part, too, as there will be a photo corner where you can dress up and pose for photos. Alternatively, you can arrive dressed in Japanese traditional attire to get free entry to the Ennichi (street fair), where you can play mini-games and win prizes (otherwise, you’ll have to spend a minimum of 500 yen in the international terminal to gain entry to the street fair area).
Lastly, you can take part in a New Year tradition at this festival—mochi (rice cake) pounding sessions, to be held twice a day (2:00-2:15 pm and 6:00-6:15 pm).
2. Furusato Matsuri (January 7-15)
Where: Tokyo Dome (access: Suidobashi, Korakuen, or Kasuga Station)
Time: 10:00 am-9:00 pm (Jan. 7-9, 11-14), 10:00 am-7:00 pm (Jan. 10), 10:00 am-6:00 pm (Jan. 15)
Admission: 1,400 yen (advanced selling) | 1,600 yen (at the door) | discount tickets also available
Is it possible to sample the different specialties of Japan’s prefectures, witness their major festivals, and buy their local handicrafts… without having to leave Tokyo? Well, yes, thanks to the Furusato Matsuri. Think of the event as a sampler of each prefecture’s pride and joy—their signature dishes and products, festivals, dances, and even their yuru-kyara (official mascots). At this event, you’ll get to learn not only about well-known prefectures like Kyoto and Hokkaido, but also about the less popular ones, like Tottori and Kochi.
As for discount tickets, there’s a special weekday-only ticket—valid from January 10-13 (Tuesday-Friday)—for 1,100 yen (advanced selling), or 1,300 yen at the door. For entry past 4:00 pm, there’s a night pass that goes for 1,100 yen. And if you plan to drop by on multiple days (which is perfectly understandable, as the stage events vary per day), you can buy a special ticket that’s only sold online (here – website in Japanese) for 4,000 yen.
3. Setagaya Boroichi (January 15-16)
Where: Boroichi-dori (access: Setagaya or Kamimachi Station)
Time: 9:00 am-9:00 pm
If you missed Tokyo’s oldest flea market last December, worry not, as the second half of the Setagaya Boroichi will be held in January. With over 700 vendors selling everything under the sun, there’s bound to be something for you, whether you’re a collector of all things vintage or you’re just looking for some household items. To give you an idea of how popular the Setagaya Boroichi is, it’s said to attract over 200,000 visitors each day, so if you want to get dibs and great bargains on rare/unique items, it’s best to go early.
4. Tokyo Auto Salon (January 13-15)
Where: Makuhari Messe
Time: Jan. 13 – 2:00 pm-8:00 pm, Jan. 14 – 9:00 pm-8:00 pm, Jan. 15 – 9:00 pm-5:00 pm
Admission: Jan. 13: 2,600 yen (advanced selling) and 3,200 yen (at the door) | Jan. 14-15: 1,800 yen (advanced selling) and 2,200 yen (at the door)
Don’t miss this event if you’re into cars, as the Tokyo Auto Salon is one of the world’s largest auto shows. The event will feature not only new/upcoming cars, but also new technologies, accessories, parts, and related merchandise. The first day is the business day, which means that it’s only open to industry insiders and the press, but if you have a premium ticket (which will be sold in limited quantities), you too can visit on the 13th from 2:00 pm. The (in)famous Piko-Taro of “PPAP” fame will perform at the event’s opening ceremony, so if you haven’t gotten enough of the PPAP craze, go check him out on the 13th.
5. Chinese New Year celebrations (January 28-February 11)
Where: Yokohama Chinatown (access: Motomachi-Chukagai or Ishikawacho Station)
For 2017, the Lunar New Year will be on January 28th, and you can be sure that the residents of Yokohama Chinatown will have colorful, festive celebrations to greet the New Year. For starters, there will be a countdown event on the 27th, right before the stroke of midnight brings about the New Year. Expect dragon and lion dances (there will be a lion dance around Chinatown on the 28th, from 3:30 pm-8:00 pm), martial arts demos, traditional song-and-dance numbers, and more.
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