1st January New Year Day (正月, shōgatsu) is a big thing in Japan. Most businesses are closed and families gather together to spend the day at a temple or shrine.
2. Here we are at the Kanda Shrine (神田明神) near Akihabara. Very crowded desu with lots of people coming for Hatsumōde (初詣), the first shrine visit of the New Year. There are often long lines at major shrines throughout Japan, stretching all the way down the streets. Shrine going crowd during this period can last for 2, 3 days.
3. Once inside, wishes for the new year are made, new omamori 御守 (charms or amulets) are bought, and the old ones are returned to be burned as it have protected you for the past 1 year, so goes the tradition.
10. A stall selling Daruma doll. Folks buy and use the doll as a reminder of the goal they have set for themselves. There are no eyes on the doll so one will colour one eye of the doll upon setting the goal, then the other upon fulfilling it. So every time one sees the one eyed doll, one is reminded to work on achieving the goal so as to be able to give the doll full sight.
20. This is call a Fukubukuro (福袋） meaning lucky bag. As the name implies, if u are lucky u get a good prize, like in this picture, a digital camera and a PS VITA! for only 2000yen. Pricing is different among stores but generally not too expensive. if u are unlucky, u get junk but even though junk it will be worth the money u paid for. This tradition is a way for store to clear their old or unwanted stock.
21. Sending handwritten New Year card call Nengajo (年賀状) is also another tradition in Japan. Over here is a mails collection box, you will see a slot on the left specially for New Year cards. Drop the card latest by 27th December and it is guaranteed to reach the recipient on 1st Jan anywhere in Japan.
22. This is call kadomatsu (門松), a traditional Japanese decoration of the New Year placed in pairs in front of homes after Christmas till end of first week of Jan. The designs vary depending on region but are typically made of pine, bamboo, and sometimes ume tree sprigs which represent longevity, prosperity and steadfastness, respectively.