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5 Things That You Can Only Do After New Year’s Day In Japan

Why New Year’s is the best time to visit Japan for an authentic cultural experience; New Year’s or “oshōgatsu” in Japanese is perhaps the most important holiday in Japan, fused with traditions rooted from Shinto, Buddhist and pop culture.

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1. Visit your local Shinto Shrine

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After hitting midnight you will see people flocking to their nearest shrine to make their prayers and wishes for their first visit to the shrine or "hatsumōde". On your way out make sure to grab a fortune or "omikuji" and see what your luck is for the whole year.

2. Meet the Emperor

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January 2nd is the only day, apart from the Emperor's birthday, that the inner grounds of the Imperial Palace in Tokyo is open for the general public. Go on and queue patiently and start the year by saying cheers to the Emperor.

3. Literally burn last year away

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Head on down to your local shrine once again on January 12 (second Monday of January) to experience "dondoyaki" and witness the burning of last year's talismans and this year's New Year's decoration. If you happen to have bought an "omamori" or lucky charm from the previous year, bring it along and join the festivities. To follow proper traditions, make sure to bring the lucky charm to the same shrine you purchased it from.

4. Indulge in “lucky bags”

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Starting New Year's Day, stores will sell "fukubukuro" or lucky bags for a fixed price stuffed with last year's merchandises. Shop 'til you drop because, stores will go on massive New Year's sales, making shopping in Japan at its cheapest!

5. Throw you and your friends a drinking party

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Do as the Japanese do and have yourself a "shinnenkai" or beginning of the year party at an "izakaya" or Japanese bar with all your favourite people. Order the "nomihoudai" or drink-all-you-can plan where you can drink as much alcoholic beverages from beer to cocktails for as cheap as 1,000 yen (£5) per hour.

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