December 25, 2019, Tokyu Hotel on Mr. Ichirou (in Tsukiji National Park), Sakura and Motomachi Streets 3.5 minutes.
Tokyo may be called Japan’s “City of Fire,” with a long history of constant fire suppression. Of course, this heightened awareness for fire and the responsibility that goes with this fuels the spirit of striving to enjoy better air quality and a cleaner environment. This spirit is still present at our events, such as Tokyo Fireworks Festival (www.fireworksfestival.jp/en), Tokyo Times Fireworks Festival (tokyotimes.org/fireworks) and Tsukiji New Year’s Fireworks Festival (tokyospark.jp/fireworks).
Traditionally, celebrating the New Year has meant a new year’s wish. The Japanese do not have a Catholic belief in New Year’s Day, though New Year’s is a prominent date in Japanese culture. Instead, many people take the opportunity to renew their blessings for the year ahead.
This year, we’re observing New Year’s celebrations with a summer-style party with friends, families and colleagues. Starting at 7 p.m., there will be a five-minute fireworks display set to music by the Tokyo New Year’s Fireworks Orchestra from the AOH Aide Personuwa No Mori Square on Okatsuka Rainbow Bridge on Tokyo’s Hanamisui Sekiya (Northwest Ward) and an estimated 1,500 kilowatts of stage lighting from Wataru Ballroom in the Marunouchi Sea Bazaar. Show times are 1:30 p.m., 3:20 p.m., 6:40 p.m. and 7:20 p.m.
The festive mood will continue for several more hours with the TEFAF Matsuri (New Year’s Festival of Culture) along Obon (the Japanese Buddhist and Shinto calendar day of Jan. 1) river during which family members can observe the tradition of enjoying rice balls to send greeting cards to their friends. There is plenty to do and see throughout the festival, including a traditional variety show.
Food is another key part of the New Year and festivities. One of the most requested main dishes from food stalls was “machi imu” (fish soup), from the Shizuoka town of Okuma. The dish is full of important Japanese traditions, including “nimanji shruf,” meaning the blowing of a conch shell in Japanese Buddhist tradition. These traditionical items symbolize asking for luck for the year ahead and wishing for a good harvest, as well as the requests of nature and nature’s various gifts, including fish.
Those who are of Japanese descent appreciate “kusatsu” (fishball soup), which is made from the humble fish of the bay, and the delicious, crispy “mujirake” (spicy seaweed), which contains serious nutritional benefits. For Chinese New Year, “moi moi” (golden pork) combines spicy and tender meat. Fish balls and rice are staples to most Japanese house-served meals, and some foods related to or celebrating New Year are also available.
In terms of what to keep in mind, starting with the celebration, the most important thing during New Year’s is enjoying life with friends and family, celebrating with spirit of New Year’s Eve, learning to protect the environment and seeing the many streams, parks and places throughout the year.
In addition to the Tokyo Fireworks Festival, traditional dance performances will be held at the museum across from the famous Tsukiji Fish Market in Downtown Tokyo on Nov. 29. The program runs every 15 minutes beginning at 7 p.m. for 90 minutes from 7 p.m. for 90 minutes. To attend, register at (JAPAN TRAVEL WEB MAGAZINE) by the 25th.
• Sirene Sakai, Japan Travel Agency, ★★☆☆☆, is a writer for The Japan Travel Blog (www.japan-travel.co.jp/blog), Tokyo’s official travel magazine. She lives in a 2,400 square-foot apartment near Motomachi Street (at Chihiro Station) in the Yokohama Tachibana-Junko-Chikamatsu District, just a 15-minute walk from their office. www.tokyotravel.co.jp/blog