Hatsuhinode, a New Year Day tradition 初日の出
The Japanese tradition of New Year's Day!
Hatsuhinode means "first sunrise" and it is awaited by many Japanese who, in the early morning of January 1, in the frost of winter, awaits the first sunrise of the New Year!
To celebrate the arrival of the first sun, many places organize special events, temples and shrines offer soups or amazake (a drink made from fermented rice). On the very busy beaches, it was customary to light wood fires to warm up.
In a country very attached to symbols, any first action of the new year takes on particular importance. Thus one makes his first visit of the year to the Shinto sanctuary or the Buddhist temple, hatsumode. There is even talk of the first dream of the night of January 1: hatsuyume, or the first laugh, hatsuwarai! It is therefore hardly surprising that in the Land of the Rising Sun, the first sunrise is celebrated.
An ancient Japanese custom
Historically, the emperor was required to address a prayer to Amaterasu, the Sun Goddess of Shintoism, every first day of the year.
In the Heian period (794–1185), the nobles followed this custom, then in the Meiji period (1868-1912), the entire Japanese people celebrated Amaterasu on the first of the year. And it was quite natural to greet the goddess of the sun as soon as she rose, to celebrate the new year. Along with this custom, popular belief held that the god of the new year, Toshigamisama, arrived on the first day of the year with sunrise and welcome him on his arrival to ask him to bring abundant harvests and good health. The belief is that if one makes a wish while watching the sunrise, the wish will be granted.
Where to admire the rising sun in Japan on January 1st?
Given the importance that many Japanese attach to this symbolic moment, one suspects that the best places are taken by storm. The heights and the beaches are privileged places.
Where to admire the Hatsuhinode from the heights of Japan?
Mount Fuji is of course the most coveted place but in winter, given the climatic conditions, its access is reserved for professional mountaineers.
The luckiest can admire the ascent of the star from the heights of the capital, namely: the Tokyo Skytree (634 meters high) or the seat of the Tokyo metropolitan government, commonly called the Tokyo town hall (the towers observation point are 202 meters high). Indeed, the town hall of Tokyo organizes each year a draw to allow access to these towers to a hundred people. Exactly 892 for Tokyo Skytree for a cost of 7000 yen and 600 people (free access) for the Tokyo Metropolitan Government Headquarters. The bravest can also try to get an entrance ticket to the Tokyo Skytree on the same day (8,000 yen) but they will have to arrive early before the ticket offices open at….4 am!
The wealthiest can board a special flight organized by the Japanese airlines JAL and ANA from Narita airport. For a plump price (between 60,000 and 100,000 yen per tour), you can enjoy a special New Year's menu while flying over Tokyo Bay and Mount Fuji as the first rays of the sunset the sky ablaze.
The best places for the Hatsuhinode
If you are neither lucky, nor fortunate, nor courageous, console yourself: there are many other places to contemplate the sunrise of His Majesty the sun. So, wrap up warm, arm yourself with courage, and discover some of these magical places with us.
Inubosaki, located in Choshi in Chiba Prefecture, is the easternmost point of the Kanto region (which encompasses Tokyo) and is therefore where the sun first peaks, at 6:45 a.m., gradually illuminating the Inubosaki lighthouse, the emblem of the region. The landscape is grandiose and it attracts crowds.
A little further north, the prefecture of Ibaraki, with its 190 kilometers of coastline, also offers magnificent viewpoints. You just need to find a beach facing east to be able to watch the sunrise. However, Oarai Beach is very popular for its torii perched on the rocks, facing the sea and the rising sun. Just before the rise of the sun (at 6:49 a.m.) the priest of the Shinto shrine of which the torii is a part gives a religious ceremony. It is a great moment of extreme beauty.
Failing to climb Mount Fuji, it can be admired from Lake Motosu Park, in the Five Lakes region. From the pond called Ryujinike, you can contemplate the famous volcano haloed by the first rays of the rising sun.
For those in Kyoto, Yoshimine-dera Temple, perched on Mount Nishiyama to the southwest of the city, is a special spot. From this temple established in 1029, you can see the sun rising behind the Higashiyama mountain range.
Admire the Hatsuhinode in Tokyo and its surroundings
Kasai Rinkai amusement park is open 24 hours a day. You can therefore spend the night there and wait for the first sunrise while enjoying the various attractions and the giant wheel that lights up the night sky. In addition, the park is located by the sea. The park is close to Kasai Rinkai Koen Station on the JR Keiyo and JR Musashino lines.
One hour by train from Tokyo, Enoshima and Kamakura, on the Shonan coast, are very popular places.
Opposite Enoshima Island, Katase Nishihama Beach is famous for its sunsets and sunrises and views of Mount Fuji, weather permitting.
In Kamakura, it is from the beach near Enoden Kamakura Koko Mae station that you can admire the rising sun.
For further :
- The most beautiful Japanese landscapes under the snow
- Top 7 Snow Festivals in Japan
- The best winter fireworks in Japan
- Otaru Snow and Light Road Festival
- 5 Ways to Enjoy Kyoto in Winter
- 5 reasons to go to Japan in winter
- Where to go in the snow near Tokyo?
- Where to see the Snow Monsters of Japan?
- The best rotenburo in winter