New Year’s in Kyoto

Jan 1, 2017

New Year’s Eve At Fushimi Inari

Celebrating New Year’s in Kyoto and specifically at Fushimi Inari temple is very different from the western idea of ringing in new year’s. It isn’t the crowds of drunk obnoxious people, yelling as they count down into the new year like Las Vegas, for example.

Instead it is almost completely the opposite. New Year’s Eve is a time for family, traditions and  abundant blessings.

We arrived at Fushimi Inari close to midnight. The crowds were large and growing. We could see the temple in the distance and families surrounded the front of the temple.


There were street vendors lining the walkway that led to the shrine. People were selling all types of goodies, from sweet to savory.  There were strawberries dipped and hardened in a glass red candy shell, yakisoba and roasted nuts in a bag to name a few.


Fushimi Inari was packed. We heard one pop of a small firework, which definitely wasn’t from a local.

2017 has commenced! We were one of the few yelling and jumping with excitement! What a blessing it was to be welcoming in the new year in Kyoto! Hell ya!

We got sake from a convenient store, sold in a glass cup, had it heated and it was perfect. We drank under a tented area with the locals. An elderly Japanese man tried to talk to us and I desperately tried using my google translate with only a little success. Everyone was friendly having a great time conversing, eating and drinking.

New, New Year’s Traditions

It was my first time walking through the tori polls in almost complete darkness with only the dimly lit lanterns guiding the way.

We waited for the crowds to die down, then took part in the Japanese tradition of ringing bells and offering our prayers for a fruitful new year, as well as paying our respect for this amazing experience.

We shook a jar full of sticks, got a bit confused, then figured out that it basically led to a specific fortune.

Next you fold your fortune and tie it to a string that is place next to a temple.

There were also thousands and thousands of beautiful folded paper cranes hanging on the walls.

Onto Kiyomizu Temple

The  friendly locals pointed us to Kiyomizu temple to watch the first sun rise of the New Year. It is Japanese tradition to stay up and witness the sunrise on this day, so we had to do it! It was a real struggle for Villn but he did it!

We hopped in a taxi and headed there, eager to see the first sunrise of 2017.  I was too excited to be tired.

The Kiyomizu temple at night is a absolutely stunning!

The temples were literally glowing. So pretty! We walked around admiring the different shrines.

First Sunrise Of The New Year

Finally it was time to witness the first sunrise of the New Year.  We sat and waited patiently for the sun to rise. We sat facing a mountain with clouds hovering above.

When the sun rose and lit up the sky, we could feel the blessings of the new year. What an amazing experience! It was a perfect way to begin our first New Year’s together in a different country.

After witnessing out first new years sunrise, we walked around and explored more of the temples in the area.

Villn found his lucky rabbit.

Kyoto is hands down a beautiful, one of a kind place to welcome in the New Year. Filled with traditions, beauty and zen, these pictures don’t do it justice!

I would definitely recommending experiencing New Year’s in Japan, especially in Kyoto. There is something very special about witnessing and taking part in another’s culture during this time of year. It is by far my best New Year’s experience.

Need other ideas on what to do in Japan? Check out Nara, you can feed sacred deer here. If you want to watch a fun creative travel video from Hakone, Kyoto, Nara and Tokyo click the link.

 Thanks for reading! Please comment below with any questions or comments -Val Pal

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