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(Please confirm dates and time before you go at the phone numbers listed)

(*) covered events
1 Fri
2 Sat *Chichibu Yomatsuri
    *Kanto Koshin-etsu Nishikigoi Contest at Ueno Park (3 p.m.-5 p.m.)
3 Sun *Chichibu Yomatsuri
    *Kanto Koshin-etsu Nishikigoi Contest at Ueno Park (9 p.m.-4 p.m.)
4 Mon
5 Tue
6 Wed
7 Thu
8 Fri
9 Sat
10 Sun
11 Mon
12 Tue
13 Wed
14 Thu *Gishisai (47 Ronin Memorial Ceremony) at Sengakuji
15 Fri *Setagata Boroichi (flea market)
16 Sat *Setagata Boroichi (flea market)
17 Sun *Hagoita Ichi at Sensoji in Asakura
18 Mon *Hagoita Ichi at Sensoji in Asakura
19 Tue *Hagoita Ichi at Sensoji in Asakura
20 Wed
21 Thu
22 Fri *Toji at Ana Hachiman
23 Sat
24 Sun
25 Mon
26 Tue *Toshi-no-ichi at Yagenbori
27 Wed *Toshi-no-ichi at Yagenbori
28 Thu *Toshi-no-ichi at Yagenbori
    *Tsukiji Market Year-end Shopping
    *Ueno Ameyoko Year-end Shopping
29 Fri *Toshi-no-ichi at Yagenbori
    *Tsukiji Market Year-end Shopping
    *Ueno Ameyoko Year-end Shopping
30 Sat *Tsukiji Market Year-end Shopping
    *Tsukiji Market Year-end Shopping
31 Sun *Oji Fox March
    *Joya no Kane at Sensoji Temple

(Late November to Early December)

Tokyo National Museum Garden
Koishikawa Korakuen
Hama Rikyu
Shiba Rikyu
Gotoh Museum
Gingko Tree at Meiji Jingu Outer Garden
Gingko Tree at Tokyo University in Hongo
Sankeien in Yokohama
Kiyosumi Garden in Tokyo
Shinjuku Gyoen in Tokyo
Rikugien Garden in Tokyo

(Late November to Early Deccember)
The museum garden, located behind Honkan (main building, Japanese Gallery), adds rich seasonal colors to Tokyo National Musuem. It is open to the public during the cherry blossom season in spring and in the autumn. The five historic teahouses within the garden can be booked for tea ceremonies and other events.

Time: 10 a.m.-4 p.m.
Venue: The Garden
Where to enter: The garden "Yurinoki" 2. Between the Honkan and the Heiseikan
Admission: Free with regular museum admission fee
Notes: The garden will be closed at times of bad weather. It may also be closed due to conditions caused by the weather. Please check for notices at the main gate.

Access: Ueno Station Koen Exit on JR Yamanote Line
Address: 13-9 Ueno Park, Taito-ku, Tokyo
Telephone: 03-5405-8686 (Hello Dial)
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Koishikawa Korakuen Garden
Autumn Colored Leaves (Late Nov. to early Dec.)

Koishikawa Korakuen Garden was the Edo residence of Yorifusa Tokugawa - the founder of the Mito Tokugawa family. The garden was completed by the second clan ruler Mitsukuni Tokugawa (1628-1701). When Mitsukini set about constructing the garden, he incorporated some concepts of the Chinese Confucian scholar Shushunsui of the Ming dynasty including a garden reproduction of Seiko Lakeof China, a "Full Moon Bridge" and others.

URL: Koishikawa Korakuen
Open: 9 a.m.-5 p.m. (Closed: Year-end holidays Dec. 29 through Jan. 1)
Admission: 300 yen
Address: 1-6-6 Koraku, Bunkyo-ku
Access: East Exit, Iidabashi Station on JR Chuo-Sobu Line/Iidabashi Station on Metropolitan Subway Oedo Line
Telephone: 03-3811-3015
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Hamarikyu Garden
Autumn Colored Leaves (Late Nov. to early Dec.)

The typical Edo-period Japanese style garden Hamarikyu was owned by the Tokugawa shogunate. In 1654, Matsudaira Tsunashige, the younger brother of Ietsuna, the 4th Tokugawa Shogun, had part of the shallows filled in and built a residence on the reclaimed land. After the Meiji Restoration, the garden became the Hama Detached Palace for the imperial family and now is a metropolitan garden.

The Edo Period pond was a tidal pond that depended on the intake of seawater from Edo Bay. It had two duck hunting sites within the grounds.

URL: Hama Rikyu Garden
Access: Shimbashi Station on JR Yamanote Line
Open: 9 a.m.-5 p.m. (Closed: Year-end holidays Dec. 29 through Jan. 1) Admission: 300 yen Telephone: 03-3541-0200

Shiba Rikyu Garden
Autumn Colored Leaves (Late Nov. to early Dec.)

The Shiba Rikyu Garden is one of a pair of feudal era clan gardens surviving in Edo (modern Tokyo). The other is Koishikawa Korakuen Garden. The Shiba Detached Palace Garden is a classic, strolling, spring-fed pond-centered garden featuring rock and land formations. The land on which the garden is located was originally under the shallows of Edo Bay, but from 1655-1658, this area was reclaimed and in 1678, came to be used for the official residence of Okubo Tadatomo, an official of the ruling Tokugawa Shogunate. The residence passed through the hands of several persons and finally, during the final years of the Tokugawa Shogunate, it became the official residence of the Kishu branch of the Tokugawa family. In the 4th year of the Meiji Period (1871), it became the residence of the Arisugawa-no-miya family. It was purchased by the Imperial Household Agency in 1875 and became the Shiba Detached Palace. In 1924, in commemoration of the marriage of the Showa emperor, the property was given to the City of Tokyo.

URL: Shiba Rikyu Garden
Access: 1 minute from Hamamatsucho Station on JR Yamanote Line
Telephone: 03-3232-3018
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Japanese Garden of Gotoh Museum of Art
(Late November to Early Deccember)

The Gotoh Museum was opened in 1960 and displays the private collection of Keita Gotoh (1882-1959) founder of Tokyu Group conglomerate. Collections center on the classical Japanese and Chinese art. Some are designated as national treasures including Genji Monogatari Emaki and handscroll of the Murasaki Shikibu Diary with illustrations. Genji is exhibited in May during the golden week days and Murasaki Shikibu in October for one week. The museum stands inside a huge Japanese style beautiful garden where Gotoh used to live. The gorgeous Japanese garden is very much worth visiting.

Address: 3-9-25 Kaminoge, Setataya-ku
Access: Kaminoge Station on Tokyu Oi Line
Time: 10 a.m.-5 p.m. (Closed Mon)
Admission: 300 yen (garden), 1,000 yen (gallery)
Telephone: 03-3703-0662
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Ginkgo Trees at Jingu Gaien (Meiji Jingu Outer Garden)
Kita Aoyama 2-Chome, Minato-ku

(Late November to Early Deccember)

Ginkgo trees (icho) are peculiar to the Orient and grow to a huge height of over a 100 feet. The leaves of Icho are fan-shaped and become beautifully yellow in autumn.

There are male and female trees, and the female bears fruit. The ripe fruit has a fleshy, foul-smelling outer covering, but its kernel, called "ginnan" is edible and used in Japanese cuisine. The genus Ginkgo is said to have thrived worldwide in the prehistoric period but now grows abundantly only in Japan, China and Korea.

In Tokyo, the Ginkgo trees at Jingu Gaien in Aoyama is well known for its beauty in autumn. The building in the back is The Meiji Memorial Picture Gallery - the symbol of Jingu Gaien (Jingu Outer Garden) built to record the virtue of Emperor Meiji and Empress Shoken.

URL: Meiji Jingu Gaien
Telephone: 03-3401-5179 (Meiji Jingu Kaigakan)
Access: Gaien Mae Station and Aoyama 1-chome on Subway Ginza Line, Shinanomachi Station on JR Chuo-Sobu Line
(Photos were taken Nov. 30 and Dec. 1).
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Ginkgo Trees at Tokyo University Hongo Campus
(Late November to Early Deccember)

The fan-shaped leaf of ginkgo has become the symbol of Japan's most prestigious university "Todai" (Tokyo University in short). Tokyo University was founded in 1877 during the westernizing Meiji Period for the purpose of developing human resources (leaders) for modern Japan.

The Red Gate (Akamon) of the Hongo Campus was previously the Tokyo residence of the Maeda familiy of feudal lord from Kaga (Ishikawa Prefecture). The huge main campus grounds in Hongo are a nice place to stroll.

URL: Tokyo University
Address: 7-3-1 Hongo, Bunkyo-ku
Access: Hongo San-chome Station on Subway Marunouchi Line.
Telephone: 03-3812-2111
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Sankeien Garden
(Late November to Early Deccember)

Sankeien Garden in Yokohama is a traditional and typical Japanese-style garden designed and landscaped by Sankei Hara (1868-1939) a wealthy businessman in the silk trade. He reconstructed buildings of historic importance relocated from places such as Kyoto and Kamakura in this garden and opened to the public as "Sankeien" in 1906. In the garden of 1,750,000 square meters, seven old buildings of high historic value are skillfully arranged in harmony with the seasonal changes of the natural scenery. The Second World War caused great damage, and in 1953 the property was transferred from the Hara family to the care of the Sankeien Hoshokai Foundation. Restoration works were carried out, and five years later, Sankeien had nearly recovered its former appearance. (from Sankeien English pamphlet)

Address: 58-1 Sannotani, Honmoku, Naka-ku, Yokohama.
Access: Take any one of the municipal buses labeled Route 58,99 or 101From JR Negishi Station (Keihin Tohoku Line) at bus stop No. 1. Get off at Honmoku and 10 minutes walk.
Telephone: 045-621-0634/5; Admission: 500 yen; Open: 9 a.m.-5 p.m.: Closed Dec. 29,30 and 31.
(photos taken Dec. 2, 2009)
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Chichibu Yomatsuri (Chichibu Night Festival)
Dec. 2 and Dec. 3. Every year the same days of December.
Chichibu City in Saitama Prefecture

The festival is counted as one of the three major float festivals of Japan - the others being Kyoto's Gion Festival and Takayama Festival in Gifu.

The highlight of the festival comes on the second day of the festival on Dec. 3. Six gorgeous floats (weighing ten to twenty tons) which are ornately decorated with lanterns, tapestries and gilded wood carvings accompanied by drum and flute music parade the city from around noon and fireworks are displayed at night. One of the six floats is transformed into a stage by pulling out wings on either side and kabuki plays by children are performed.

URL: Chichibu Yomatsuri
Access: Seibu Chichibu Station on Seibu Ikebukuro Line from Ikebukuro (one and a half hour trip)/ Chichibu Station on Chichibu Railways from Kumagaya.
Telephone: 0494-21-2277 (Chichibu Sightseeing Association)
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Dec. 2 (3 p.m.- 5 p.m.) and Dec. 3 (9 a.m.-4 p.m.)
Ueno Park near the Fountain, Ueno, Taito-ku

The Japanese people have long praised the koi (carp) as the "king of river fish." There are tales in many parts of Japan in which old carp living in ponds or rivers are regarded as the masters of such waters. The fish grows to over 1 meter in length. It was an important food fish in old Japan.

The breeding of carp is believed to have developed in Edo days (1600-1867). The carp were sold not only as food but also as pets for their beauty.

Many new types of beautiful carp have been bred in Niigata and among them, nishikigoi has become most famous. Some have red and white spots n a white body, or have red, black and white markings.

URL: http//
Telephone: 0258-83-3345/ FAX: 0258-83-5757
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Gishi-sai (47 Ronin)
Dec. 14. Every year the same day of December.
Sengakuji Temple at Takanawa, Minato-ku

The parade starts from Chuo Kuyakusho at noon (nearest station Subway Yurakucho Line Shintomi-cho Station), Higashi Ginza Kabukiza at 1 p.m., Zojoji temple at 1:30 p.m. and arrives at Sengakuji Temple at 3 p.m.

Festival of the celebrated 47 ronin (masterless samurai) of Ako who attacked the residence of Lord Kira in Honjo, Edo on December 14, 1702 to avenge the death of their master Asano Naganori, the Lord of the Castle of Ako (today's Ako in Hyogo Prefecture).

In 1701 an Imperial envoy having been sent to the Shogunate from Kyoto bearing New Year's greetings to the shogun in Edo, Asano was appointed to receive and entertain him with other daimyo. As these daimyo were young and inexperienced about the protocol, the Shogun Tsunayoshi appointed a high official, Kira Yoshinaka, who was well versed in ceremonies as a chief protocol, to assist them. But Kira being a greedy and conceited old man, heaped insult after insult upon the unfortunate Lord Asano who had failed to court Kira's favour by offering costly presents. On the third day of the reception, Asano, no longer to bear the gross provocation by Kira, drew his sword in the palatial residence of the shogun and attacked him. He succeeded in wounding him, but was prevented from killing him. On the same day the Shogunate ordered Asano to commit harakiri at once, while officers were sent to Ako to confiscate the Asano domain. The vassals of Asano lost their jobs and became samurai without a master (ronin).

URL: Sengakuji
Access: Sengakuji Station on Subway Toei Asakusa Line, JR Shinagawa Station on Yamanote Line.
Telephone: 03-3441-5560 (Sengakuji Temple)/ 03-3444-7811 (Parade Office)
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Setagaya Boroichi (Rag Fair or Flea Market)
Dec. 15 and 16, Every year the same days of December.
Boroichi Dori (Street), 1-chome, Setagaya, Setagaya-ku

This is Setagaya's most famous traditional winter event. During the fair, Boroichi Dori (Street) is lined up with hundreds of stalls (as many as 750) featuring second-hand items, clothing, plants, and a variety of other goods. The event has a history of more than 400 years. In 1578, the Lord Hojo Ujimasa authorized a tax-free market at this place. At first, farmers brought old clothes, used furnitures, agricultural products, farming equipments, etc. Boro means rags in Japanese. People brought scraps of cloth which could be used for patching their clothes or for weaving the thongs used in waraji (straw sandals).

Along the street is a thatched-roofed Daikan Yashiki (residence of a local governor) which was built in 1727 by Oba Morimasa.

URL: Setagaya Boroichi

Time: 6 a.m. to 9 p.m.
Access: Setagaya Station or Kamimachi Station on Tokyu Setagaya Line from Sangenjaya Station.
03-3429-1829 (Setagaya Boroichi Hozonkai - Heritage Association)/ 03-5432-2831 (Setagaya Ward Office)
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Hagoita Ichi (Fair)
Dec. 17, 18 and 19
(9 a.m.-9 p.m.)
Every year the same days of December.
Sensoji Temple in Asakusa, Taito-ku.

Hagoita is Japanese battledores to play with shuttlecocks. It was played by young women during new year days in the old time. The game was called "hanetsuki" (battledore and shuttlecock or Japanese badminton). The battledores were made simple at first to play the game. Later in Edo period, people added many artistic decorations and hagoita became unsuitable in actual playing becoming big and heavy. Thus they became merely ornamental articles and they are displayed at home during the new year days. Most popular figures put on the battledores are kabuki actors.

Access: Asakusa Station on Subway Ginza Line, Metropolitan Subway Asakusa Line, Tsukuba Express and Tobu Isezaki Line.
03-3842-5566 (Asakusa Culture Tourist Information Center)
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Osame-fuda Otakiage Kuyo (Burning Old Year's Talisman and Charms issued by the temple)
Dec. 21, Every year the same day of December.
Kawasaki Daishi Temple in Kawasaki, Kanagawa Prefecture

Otakiage is to burn old religious items such as wooden stupas, amulets etc. and buy new ones at temples and shrines. People recite sutras or pray while they are burning.

Kawasaki Daishi is a temple which worships Kobo Daishi (774-835). He was born in Shikoku and visited China@to study buddhism. He mastered Shingon Buddhism and after his return from China, he established and spread Shingon Sect Buddhism in Japan. Shingon and Tendai are two major esoteric buddhism forces in Japan.
Kawasaki Daishi is believed to be founded in 1127 by a samurai named Hirama Kanenori. The temple is counted as one of the three major temples of Chisan branch Shingon Buddhism in the district of Kanto. The other two are Shinshoji Temple in Narita and Yakuoin Temple in Takao.

Address: 4-48 Daishi, Kawasaki-ku, Kawasaki City, Kanagawa Prefecture
Access: Kawasaki Daishi Station on Keikyu Daishi Line
Telephone: 044-266-3420
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Osame-no-Daishi (Year-end Fair)
Dec. 21, Every year the same day of December.
Nishi Arai Daishi in Nishi Arai, Adachi-ku

Nishi Arai Daishi belongs to Buzan branch of esoteric Shingon Buddhism which worships Kobo Daishi (Kukai). The temple is located in the eastern part of Tokyo. It is as popular as Kawasaki Daishi which is in Kawasaki City in Kanagawa Prefecture west of Tokyo across the Tamagawa River. Fair is held on the 21st of every month at all temples related to Kukai throughout Japan. The saint passed away on March 21st in 835.

December 21st is the last fair within the year. The grounds of the temple are filled with lots of stalls selling traditional calendars (koyomi), foods for new year days, kumade, wigs, clothes, plants, blotch treatment lotion, etc. A singer was demonstrating her new songs entertaining the visitors.

Address: 1-15-1 Nishi Arai, Adachi-ku
Access: Daishi-Mae Station on Daishi Line of Tobu Railway.
Telephone: 03-3890-2345
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Toji-Sai (Winter Solstice Festival)
Dec. 22 (Fri) in 2023

Ana Hachiman Shrine in Waseda, Shinjuku-ku

The shrine issues a charm on which is inscribed "Ichiyo Raifuku" (swing from the negative to the positive - winter solstice is the longest night of the year and daylight becomes longer from the next day). People make long lines to purchase the amulet issued by the shrine. The tradition is only with this shrine and continues from the period of Edo (1600-1868) to today. The charm is believed to bring prosperity and good business to people at the turn of . For those in need of money, visiting the shrine and getting the charm is an indispensible event of the year-end.

Huge number of people visit the shrine on this day from early in the morning. According to the Ushigome Police, 17,000 people visited the shrine on Dec. 22 in 2014. The visitors have to wait in a long line for about one hour to buy the charm. They put the charm on the pillar in their houses in the opposite direction to the ones of the last year either on the days of winter solstice, the last day of the year and setsubun (the last day of winter) at the turn of the day.

Address: 2-1-11 Nishi Waseda, Shinjuku-ku
Access: Waseda Station on Subway Tozai Line
Telephone: 03-3203-7212
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Toward the End of the Year
Ueno, Taito-ku

The area was a famous black market for American goods after WW II and during the Korean War. Ame-yoko is still a lively shopping area where many bargains can be found. Over 400 shops and stalls cram into the 400 meter alley of Ame-yoko.

Toward the year-end in December, shops and stalls in Ame-yoko attract huge crowds of shoppers who prepare special dishes for New Year days. Popular items sold are maguro (tuna) blocks for sashimi, tako (octopus), kazunoko (salted herring roe), sake (salmon), sujiko (salmon roe), tarako (cod roe), kani (crabs), etc.

Shopkeepers at Ame-yoko are much less restrained than elsewhere in Tokyo, raucous cries rattle down the crowded alleyways attracting customers.

The market behind the Ame-yoko street sells watches, clothing, electronics, clothes and game software, etc.

Access: Ueno Station on JR Yamaote Line. Ame-yoko is located just in front of the main exit of JR Ueno Station.
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Just outside of The Tsukiji Central Wholesale Market (Tsukiji Fish Market) is Tsukiji Jogai Shijo (Tsukiji Outside Market) of small retail shops and restaurants.

Toward the year-end in December, the "outside market" is packed with people who come to buy foods for new year days. Popular items sold are maguro (tuna) blocks for sashimi, tako (octopus), kazunoko (salted herring roe), sake (salmon), sujiko (salmon roe), tarako (cod roe), kani (crabs), etc.

Also popular and special at the outside market are "domburi of various fresh fish" a bowl of rice topped with fresh sashimi of tuna, salmon roe and others,. and tamagoyaki (sweetened and soy-flavoured omelettes).

Access: Tsukiji Station on Subway Hibiya Line
Telephone: 03-3541-9466 (Tsukiji Jogai Shijo Shinkokai)

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Toshi-no-ichi (Year-end Market)
Dec. 26 through 28, Every year the same days of December..
Yagenbori Fudo Temple, Yagenbori, Chuo-ku.

Dec. 26 through 28 from noon to 8 p.m., rows of little stalls sell various articles including items for the New Year celebrations. Also, from around noon on Dec. 26, and 11:30 a.m. on 27 and 28, there will be performances of Edo Kagura and traditional Japanese stunts every day.

Yagenbori is known as the district where wholesalers (particularly of textiles) are concentrated. Besides the articles for the new year celebrations, 150 local wholesalers sell clothes, shoes, handbags, daily goods at half prices. Every year, more than 60 thousand people visit the fair. Yagenbori Fudo is a branch temple of Kawasaki Daishi.

Address: 2-6-8 Higashi Nihonbashi, Chuo-ku
Access: Higashi Nihonbashi Station on Metropolitan Subway Asakusa Line.
Telephone: 03-3866-6220/03-3866-3706
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New Year's Eve
Dec. 31

Sensoji Temple, Asakusa, Taito-ku.
(For this year 2021, details are not decided yet). In ordinary years, door of the main hall of the temple closes at 7 p.m. on Dec. 31 and opens again at midnight to the morning of Jan. 1)

People wait in long lines at Sensoji Temple in Asakusa late at night on the last day of the year. They are waiting the temple opens its main hall door to visitors at the turn of the year. People throng temples and shrines to offer their first prays of the new year.

Access: Asakusa Station on Subway Ginza Line, Metropolitan Subway, Tsukuba Express and Tobu Isezaki Line.
03-3842-0181 (Sensoji Temple)
03-3842-5566 (Asakusa Culture Tourist Information Center)
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Midnight on Dec. 31 No spectators

Sensoji Temple in Asakusa, Taito-ku.

Today, not many Japanese visit Buddhist temples to hear the temple bells rung 108 times at midnight on the new year's eve. Many stay at home on new year's eve and wait up to midnight to hear and see the temple bell tolling which is broadcast on TV.

The temple bell tolling is called "joya-no-kane" and all the temples in Japan ring their big bronze bells 108 times around midnight on December 31. It is believed that the bell tolling dispels the evils of the past year.

In Buddhism, it is believed humans have 108 earthly passions and by hearing the bell tolls 108 times, people can rid themselves of such passions at the end of the year. At some temples, visitors can toll the bells but at Sensoji, they are allowed only to the members and special guests including geisha girls, kabuki actors etc.

Access: Asakusa Station on Subway Ginza Line, Metropolitan Subway, Tsukuba Express and Tobu Isezaki Line.
03-3842-0181 (Sensoji Temple)
03-3842-5566 (Asakusa Culture Tourist Information Center)/03-3844-1221 Asakusa Kanko Renmei
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Oji Fox March
Midnight Dec. 31
Parade along the street of Oji from Oji Shozoku Inari Shrine to Oji Inari Shrine in Oji, Kita Ward

People parade along the street of Oji from Shozoku Inari Shrine to Oji Inari Shrine at midnight putting fox makeup and masks and wearing traditional costumes. This exotic festival is based on the old legend that on the first day of the year, all the foxes in Kanto area gather at Oji and pay a vist to the Oji Inari Shrine after changing their clothes into formal ones at Shozoku Inari Shrine. Shozoku means attire in Japanese. The legend also tells about "kitsune-bi." (fox fire - lights of lanterns carried by foxes). Farmers in Oji area forecasted harvest of the coming year by the numbers of lights. The legend was depicted by ukiyoe painters. Introduced here are the first one by Utagawa Hirokage and the second one by Utagawa Hiroshige.

Most popular shrine in Japan is "oinari-san" Fox God. They are found everywhere throughout Japan small and large and familiar signs are stone fox statues, many red torii arches and red banners. Oji Inari Shrine with the legend was the most popular Inari Shrine in the east Japan during the Edo period 1603-1868.

Access: JR Keihin Tohoku Lne Oji Station
Telephone: Oji Inari Shrine 03-3907-3032
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