New Year is an important time in Japan, but things are celebrated a little differently here then they are back home. You are no doubt already clued up on Japan’s New Year traditions, it’s 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, Christmas 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. At the time of going to print the details are still TBC, but in the past, there have been live performances from J-Pop stars including SEAMO, NEO HERO and nobody knows+, with music throughout the day orchestrated by a local radio station and MTR 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 it’s 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. If you need to unwind after the party the onsen is free entry until 5:00 in the morning, but the 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
Everyone’s favorite craft beer bar will be celebrating the New Year in usual style: with fantastic beers from Japan and America that you are unlikely to find anywhere else. There is no cover charge, and there will be no courses or nomihoudai or things like that, but there will be a load of cool people and good times. The plan is to ring in the new year in the bar, then pick up a road beer and travel together en masse to nearby Osu Kannon for a New Year shrine visit.
If there is one thing Brazilians know how to do, its throw a party, and owner of MYBAR, Edy, is well known in Nagoya for organizing some great shindigs. At the time of publication he is still sorting out the fine details for their NYE event, but whatever he comes up with it’ll be a corker. Keep an eye on the Facebook page (below) or give them a call closer to the day for further details.
Nagoya’s most popular British theme pub, The Hub, will be open all evening long and up until 5 am, so it makes it an ideal place if you want to party right into the night. Furthermore, as there is no cover charge and reservations are not required, it is great if all your other plans fall through, and you find yourself at 23:45 with no place to go (as happened to me one year.