New Year is an important time in Japan, but things are celebrated a little differently here then they are badck home. You are no doubt already clued up on Japan’s New Year traditions, its New Year’s foods and the shrines to visit for Hatsumoude in Nagoya. But did you know that there are also New Year countdown parties like at home?
Like so many aspects of western culture – Valentine’s Day, Christmans and Halloween, Japan has slowly been getting to grips with the New Year Countdown parties. Primarily celebrated by younger people, there are a few places that hold parties with fireworks and the like at the stroke of midnight. There are three major ones in the Nagoya area.
Down in the Mikawa Bay in Gamagori you can find Laguna, Aichi’s biggest amusement park. Every year they put on a huge countdown party that is guaranteed to draw the crowds. The amusement park opens at 10:00 on the morning of the 31st, and goes on through the day until 1:00 on New Year’s Day. There will be live performances from J-Pop stars including SEAMO, NEO HERO and nobodyknows+, with music throughout the day orchestrated by local radio station and JIS favorite ZIP FM. Eat your fill, enjoy the rides and then marvel at the fireworks at midnight.
Nagashima Spaland is one of the most famous amusement parks in Japan, and its New Year’s party is well known. Gates open at 20:00 on December 31 and you can ride all of the attractions as many times as you like (norihoudai) right through until 3:00 the next morning. There are live performances from the likes of WHITE JAM, SILENT GARDEN and Funky Kato (of Funky Monkey Babies fame). If you need to unwind after the party the onsen is free entry until 5:00 in the morning, but last entry is at 4:00. Get your tickets in advance as they will go quickly.
Nagoya Castle usually does a special event for New Year’s countdown, but at the time of us going to press, they still haven’t released any details. Last year there were various musical and cultural events going on (a web link to which we have added below), but unfortunately there is nothing we can confirm so far. All we can advise is that you keep an eye on their website for any updates.
If you can’t make it out to any of the big parties, there are a few bars in town holding countdown events as well.
Never ones to miss a good chance for a party, the guys at Shooters will be throwing a massive shindig for the new year celebrations. They’ll be opening their doors from 17:00, but between 21:00 and 1:00* the next morning, it’s party time! They will be having an all-you-can-drink party, with music all night, a finger food buffet and a midnight champagne toast.
*The all-you-can-drink offer runs from 21:30 until 0:30
This year Nagoya’s premier Australian bar will be holding a masquerade themed countdown party, so get your semi-formal glad rags on and mask-up! (People who arrive maskless can come in and create their own free of charge). Things kick off at 18:00 and go on until 2:00 on New Year’s day. There will be music from DJ Scrying, appetizers will be served from 18:00-21:00, and everyone will be getting merry with a free glass of sparkling wine and special 500 JPY drinks from the select menu.
By Mark Guthrie