Tuesday, January 17, 2017

New Year's in Tokyo!

Hello guys! So, James and I went on a short trip to Tokyo to celebrate the New Year! It was awesome! I was extremely excited. Oops w...

Hello guys!

So, James and I went on a short trip to Tokyo to celebrate the New Year! It was awesome! I was extremely excited.
Oops wrong photo. I meant to put this.
Anyway, Tokyo was great! I don't know what it's usually like during the non-new year periods, but from what I can tell, no one really knows what it's like over the new year. So I have compiled some tips on what you can expect, where you can go, and what you can do if you decide to go to Tokyo to usher in the new year. So here goes...

#1 Go to Shibuya Crossing for the countdown.

We were initially looking for a bar to drink in to celebrate new year because in Dubai last year, we could not find alcohol. At all. Also there was a big fiasco because all the roads were closed, a hotel burnt down, and there were 2 million people crowded in a space of what seemed to me like the padang.
Bottleneck at a Metro station 3 stops away from the Burj Khalifa.

So this year, we thought we should ensure our new year alcohol supply by chilling out in a bar. Then James got this bright idea of hanging out at the Shibuya Crossing. You know, just in case there was a  party there. We did some research (in our hotel room 3 hours before) and found that THERE WAS A STREET PARTY! Shibuya was to be pedestrianised for the new year countdown!

So down we headed. It was awesome!
It wasn't too crowded so you could still move in and out of the crossing at 11:30, but it was packed enough so that there was a good atmosphere going.
Hachiko in his new year garb.
Coca-Cola sponsored by-the-second countdown and us at one of the Coca-Cola photobooths.
Crowd about 10 minutes before midnight.
All the poor policemen on New Year's Eve countdown duty in Shibuya.
It's 2017!
Some people jump around and wave their flags while we focus on taking selfies.

Anyway it was loads of fun! If you're looking for an affordable new year party to go to, this is the one! It's just crowded enough and it's free of charge! The only problem is that they don't let you drink alcohol. But you know...no one really cared.
Except for us. After we saw the signs, we downed our beers at supersonic speed. James regretted it shortly after when he realised that rapid beer consumption stresses your bladder.

#2 Follow the crowds to visit a shrine.

So you'd think that there's nothing to do once the whole countdown finishes but you're wrong! You can join the throngs of Japanese heading to one of the many shrines in Tokyo for their first shrine visit of the year, or "hatsumode".
Stream of people entering the Meiji Shrine.
Lanterns all lit up for Hatsumode at the Meiji Shrine.
Scouts standing guard around a fire and also us at the Meiji Shrine because NPNT.

Also, if you may think it's very crowded and not worth a visit, you may want to reconsider. The bottleneck only affects you if you want to visit the shrine itself. If you're just intending to walk around and soak up the atmosphere, crowds aren't really a problem at all.

Besides! You get to see the cool lanterns on display and all the street food stalls set up around the shrine to cater to hungry shrine visitors that aren't usually there.
Crowds at the Japanese equivalent of a "pasar malam" at the Sensō-ji shrine.
FOOD GLORIOUS FOOD at the Sensō-ji shrine.

So you know, even if you're not interested in the cultural aspect of visiting a shrine, the foodie in you may want to check it out. Once a year only leh. Is that the stirring of the kiasu Singaporean in you I hear?

#3 Stop looking for fireworks in Tokyo.

So maybe you want to watch some fireworks to ring in the new year. Well, sorry to burst your bubble but Tokyo's not the place to go - unless you go to Disneyland/Disneysea of course.

And I know you may see photos and articles such as the one below from dodgy travel site NewYearsEveTokyo2017, but if you click on the individual links, all point to hotels on Agoda, which is extremely misleading and bad.
So you know, as your mummy said, don't trust everything you see on the internet (apart from me, of course).

#4 Watch the sunset over Mount Fuji.

I'm sorry if you were looking forward to watch New Year fireworks in Tokyo, but you know, there's still plenty more to see! LIKE THE LAST SUNSET OF THE YEAR! Which was what James and I went to do!
Over Mount Fuji no less. I know I exaggerate a lot, all the time, in excess. BUT. Watching the sunset over Mount Fuji was nothing short of magical. (And now you know I am not exaggerating because since when do I use such fluffy terms? Magical. Ugh)

Anyway, a good place to watch the sunset over Mount Fuji is the Tokyo Skytree.
The Tokyo Skytree, Sumida River,  and the aptly named Golden Turd.

But if you want to do this, it's imperative that you book your tickets to the Skytree in advance. This lets you skip past the Vatican-like queues.

Any surcharges that you need to pay is worth it.
Us after our  massive queue jump!

I know what you're thinking - the queue doesn't look that bad. Yes. But there are two other halls before this that are just packed full of people clamouring to get up to the top of the Skytree to watch the sunset. I heard people complain about being stuck in the queue for 5 hours. MAD. And queueing doesn't even guarantee you a view of the sunset. What if you get in only after the sun has set? That would be heartbreaking!
Throngs of people pushing to take photos of the last sunset of 2016. (There were many times more people in the queue!)
James found a good window to plant himself at.

I booked tickets for the 4:30 pm slot in anticipation for the 4:38 pm sunset, which I of course, Googled before booking.
You have to pay an extra I-can't-remember-how-much to get the sunset slot, but it's worth it! Watching the sky darken and the city lights come on around Tokyo was amazing.
Can you see Mount Fuji, the moon, and the Tokyo Tower?

Thank you friend for advising me to buy the tickets in advance. I promise you, just paying money to pass the sheer number of people in the queue was fulfilling enough.

#5 Make use of the sales.

So apparently, and we found this out completely by accident, that the 2nd of January is apparently the civilised, more gracious version of Black Friday in Japan. We saw snaking queues forming in front of numerous shops even before they opened.
We decided to step into Adidas to take a look.
And quickly stepped out again. The discounts were really good, but crowds in shops aren't our thing. Whatever can be bought on sale in Japan, can be bought online during CNY sales, Valentine's Day sales, Fathers' Day sales, Mothers' Day sales, etc. I love consumerism.
(Via Giphy).

But my disdain for queues shouldn't stop you from making use of the good deals during Japan's New Year sale! May you shop till you drop! As I said, I love consumerism.

Okay and I've come to the end of my list of tips. Oh you may want to check out the opening and closing hours of everything over the new year period, or your bf/husband will be forced to take you back to Japan again so that you can see everything that you missed earlier. Sometimes you must have your cake and eat it.
Or ice cream. I'm flexible. Anyway, I've got to go but here's a song for you!



Cheers!
❤ Jac.

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