Source: Gaijin Pot
According to both Shinto belief and Buddhist tradition, Toshigami — the god of the new year, harvests and the spirits of ancestors — arrives when the sun rises on New Year’s Day. If you stand outside and make a wish during the sunrise, you will be blessed by Toshigami and your dream will come true during the year to come.
Called “hatsuhinode” in Japanese, witnessing the first sunrise of the New Year is similar to other Japanese New Year traditions like hatsumode, the first shrine visit of the New Year, and hatsuyume, the first dream of the New Year. If you hadn’t guessed, the Japanese word “hatsu (初)” means first.
Whether or not you believe your wish for 2019 will come true, seeing the sun rise on New Year’s Day in Japan is indeed something magical, and probably a “first” in Japan for many foreigners. While some say that the view of the dawn from the summit of Mt. Fuji is the absolute best place for hatsuhinode, it’s worth noting that January is outside of the official climbing season, absolutely freezing and also quite dangerous — so not a good idea unless you have someone very experienced to guide you.
Happily, for us mere mortals not keen on hiking all the way up Mt. Fuji on New Year’s Eve, there are lots of incredible places to see it all across Japan that are much easier, and safer, to access.
Here are our top picks for where to see the first sunrise of 2019 in Japan.
1. Tokyo Skytree, Tokyo (Sunrise 6:50 a.m.)