2023 — a year that has been both very long and all too short — is coming to a close. But before that clock hits midnight on December 31, try out some of these festivities.

Remember, December is the month of winter illuminations and Christmas markets in Tokyo. If you are looking for a New Year countdown party or more traditional things to do, then check out our dedicated New Year’s Eve guide.

Suggested Activity
Mt Fuji, Hakone & Lake Ashi Cruise with Bullet Train Day Trip from Tokyo
Join a full-day guided tour from Tokyo that travels to Mt Fuji, then continues to nearby Lake Ashi and the Mt Komagatake Ropeway, includes coach out from Tokyo and a Shinkansen Bullet Train trip back.

1. Odaiba Rainbow Fireworks

December 2–23
Odaiba Seaside Park, Odaiba

Expect a rainbow of colors at Odaiba Fireworks. | Photo by istock.com/magicflute002

Get ready for some pretty awesome fireworks. Already a romantic spot, the Seaside Park in front of Decks Shopping Mall will be filled to the brim with couples every Saturday in December (except the 31st). While the firework display only lasts for five minutes, it’s still well worth the visit — plus there are plenty of other things to do in Odaiba while you’re there.

2. Hagoita-ichi Fairs

December 17–19
Sensōji Temple, Asakusa

An example of a hagoita. | Photo by Grigoris Miliaresis

Hagoita are wooden paddles that were once used to play hanetsuki, a Japanese badminton-like game. Over time, they became regarded as an auspicious symbol — they’re used for hitting, after all, so maybe they could “hit” bad luck as well; get it? Thus, at Sensoji Temple’s Hagoita Market and Kasukabe Hagoita Market you’ll see elaborate, purely ornamental hagoita, which are meant to welcome good luck and drive away bad luck. Great for gifts.

3. Winter Comiket

December 30–31
Tokyo Big Sight, Odaiba

The best of cosplay in Japan. | Photo by David Ishikawa

If you’re into Japanese pop culture, comics, and cosplay, be sure not to miss Winter Comiket, the major geeky year-ender. This event draws tons of doujinshi (fan-made comics) collectors, cosplayers, and photographers every year, so be prepared for crowds and queues (yes, even to take photos of the more popular cosplayers).

Read our guide to cosplaying at Comiket to learn about Japanese cosplay event etiquette and what to expect.

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Get Tickets To the Samurai Restaurant in Shinjuku [11% OFF]
Experience one of the craziest, most colorful places in Tokyo — the all-new Samurai Restaurant, from the creators of the Robot Restaurant. Get your tickets and sit back for a wild show of lasers, lights, samurai, dancers and other uniquely Japanese weirdness. ...

4. Tokyo Comic Con

December 8–10
Makuhari Messe, Chiba

Who knows who you’ll find at Tokyo Comic Con. | Photo by Alex Ziminski

While anime and manga tend to be celebrated in Japan throughout the whole year, the biggest celebration of Western comic books and entertainment can be found at the end of the year.

Comic Con is famous the world over for merchandise, celebrity meet and greets, as well as cosplay — and Tokyo’s edition is no different. For 2023, Tom Felton, Christopher Lloyd, Evangeline Lilly, Benedict Cumberbatch, Tom Hiddleston, Ewan McGregor, and many more big names will be on the bill.

5. Christmas markets

Until December 25
All around Tokyo and beyond

Ho ho ho, Merry Christmas and so on. | Photo by David Ishikawa

Are we cheating with this entry? A little. While we have a whole article detailing the best of 2023’s Christmas markets, our three ultimate favorites are:

Bonus December events for 2023

Chichibu Night Festival/Yomatsuri
There will be fireworks at the Chichibu Night Festival. | Photo by iStock.com/JoshuaHawley

While we do our best to ensure it’s correct, information is subject to change.

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