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- art exhbition / day trip / Dining / fukubukuro / Lucky Bag / Meiji Shrine / New Year's Day / Omotesando / Omotesando Hills / shopping / Shrine
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As some of our readers probably know, it's a tradition in Japan to usher in the New Year by visiting shrines and temples to pray for happiness, health, and prosperity. There are numerous options in the Tokyo area to choose from, but Meiji Shrine (or 明治神宮 meiji jingū in Japanese), dedicated to the deified spirits of Emperor Meiji and his wife, Empress Shōken, is perhaps the most famous one. If you're in the Tokyo area this winter, you may be thinking about visiting.
Many foreigners join the throngs of local residents who do so. If you don't mind braving the cold and the crowds, you can visit on New Year's Eve and wait for the strike of midnight. It's best to arrive before 10 PM if you want to be able to reach the Outer Worship Hall where you throw in a five-yen coin (or any other amount you wish) and make your prayers. However, many people avoid that and prefer to visit during the daytime when the weather is warmer and the crowds may (or may not) be less dense. We recommend visiting in the morning.
While many visitors plan on visiting Meiji Shrine, they don't always consider what they'll do afterward. Therefore, we'd like to propose some activities in the vicinity of the temple for an auspicious and enjoyable New Year's Day 2023. But first, here's what you need to know about Meiji Shrine.
Visiting Meiji Shrine for the New Year
There are three entrances to Meiji Shrine. Choose the one most convenient for you based on where you're staying:
Meiji Shrine will be open continually from 6:40 am on December 31st, 2022, and throughout New Year's Day. Here are the specific times to keep in mind:
Caution for New Year's Eve visitors:
If you are visiting at midnight and need to take public transportation home, the JR Yamanote line will be operating on an exceptional schedule with trains every 15 minutes between 1:00 and 5:00, but some train companies and train lines may not be running all night long. It's best to check your route and contact the public transportation service you intend to use in advance to be sure.
Shopping and Lunch at Omotesando Hills
Once you've prayed for a good Year of the Rabbit, your next destination will be Omotesando Hills. It's only an eight-minute hop from the Harajuku (South) entrance of Meiji Shrine along the scenic zelkova-lined Omotesando avenue, sometimes called Tokyo's Champs-Elysee.
genki | © PIXTA
Occupying a 250-meter stretch of Omotesando avenue, the Omotesando Hills (表参道ヒルズ, Omotesandō hiruzu) shopping and residential complex was built by internationally renowned architect Tadao Ando in 2005 and contains over 130 shops.
While many shops and shopping centers are closed on January 1st in Japan, Omotesando Hills is staying open for a special New Year's campaign.
From January 1st to 15th, 2023, The Omotesando Hills Sale 2023 Winter will be held. About 40 of the shopping center's most popular stores will participate, selling this season's trendy items at up to 50% off.
In addition, between January 1st and 3rd, 2023, about 20 stores will offer 福袋 fukubukuro. Literally meaning "lucky bags," these are grab bags of varying size filled with unknown random merchandise and offered at a substantial discount. First offered by the Ginza Matsuya Department Store in the late Meiji Era, selling fukubukuro is one of Japan's invented traditions and something fun worth trying at least once when you're in Japan, especially if you enjoy shopping.
From New Year's Day to January 9th, 2023, popular artist ヤナギダマサミ Masami Yanagida will be having an exhibition.
Finally, ten restaurants in the building will be offering special chefs' winter menus.
Dining: Winter Specialties
From January 1st to 9th, 2023, chefs at ten restaurants will be offering their best menu recommendations for this winter under the title of 冬のスペシャリテ fuyu no supesharite ("Winter Specialties"). You'll be able to enjoy such delights as seafood dishes with sea urchin, salmon roe, crab and shrimp, shark fin soup and other luxurious seafood delicacies, sukiyaki using wagyu beef raised in Tottori, known as the "sacred land" of wagyu, and more. Whether you're arriving in time for lunch or dinner, you'll surely find auspicious and delicious dining options to start off your new year in an enjoyable and memorable way.
Details of the Winter Specialties menu selections at each participating restaurant will be revealed from December 28th at the following link.
Shopping: Omotesando Hills Sale 2023 Winter
About 40 of Omotesando Hills' popular stores will participate in the sale, offering 30-50% discounts on this season's trendy items, from men's and women's fashion items to accessories and more.
For details, see the following link (from December 26th, 2022)
Between January 1st and 3rd, 2023, about 20 stores will offer fukubukuro. For example, Bang & Olufsen will offer a fukubukuro featuring luxurious home theater products, Bizoux [sic] will offer a fukubukuro in which you can choose your favorite design from a selection of popular colored gemstones to create a semi-customized piece of jewelry, and wine store Enoteca & Bar is offering a wine fukubukuro in which you may get lucky and get a bottle of fine wine.
For details, see the following link (from December 26th, 2022).
Art: Masami Yanagida Exhibition
From January 1st to 9th, 2023, the B3 pop-up space in the main building will host the "Masami Yanagida exhibition Let's! Swing! 2023!"
Popular artist Masami Yanagida will present special works of art drawn especially for this exhibition with a motif of "good luck" to wish for good fortune in the year to come. In addition, a special space will be created at the exhibition site, inviting visitors to enter the exciting world of Masami Yanagida's works. Some exhibited works will also be on sale.
You'll find the locations described in this article on this map: