Top 8 Places to Watch the First Sunrise of the Year in Tokyo: 2020 Edition

If your winter holiday plans don’t include a flight back home to see friends and family, you might be interested in celebrating the first day of 2020 by seeing the first sunrise of the year over Tokyo!

A fairly common tradition in Japan is to watch the sunrise on New Year’s Day (known as hatsuhinode in Japanese, 初日の出, literally “first sunrise”). While yours truly will most likely be too hungover to properly enjoy the beauty of the first sunrise, I have taken the liberty to gather a few of the sunrise hotspots close to Tokyo.

You might be wondering, “What’s the big deal with the first sunrise?” This is exactly what I thought when I started looking into this Japanese tradition. The origin for this custom is rooted in worshipping the Shinto goddess of the sun, Amaterasu. Among the deities within the Shinto religion, Amaterasu holds the highest position, so starting off the year by greeting the sun can be seen as an auspicious occasion. It is said that watching the first sunrise will bring good luck and happiness.

Tokyo Skytree

Main ticket sales for the special sunrise event have ended, but the official website states that 50 tickets will be available day-of for those who want to attempt getting chance to view the first sunrise from the tallest structure in Tokyo.

Estimated sunrise time 6:46 AM (Tembo Galleria); 6:47 AM (Tembo Deck)
Closest station Oshiage
Number of attendees 940
Information (in Japanese) Tokyo Skytree Event Page

Tokyo Tower

The Main Deck of Tokyo Tower will be open from 6:00 AM on New Year’s Day. However, only 60 people will be able to view the sunrise from the Top Deck, with tickets being distributed from 1:30 AM on January 1.

Estimated sunrise time 6:48 AM (Main Deck); 6:47 AM (Top Deck)
Closest station Akabanebashi
Number of attendees Estimated 900+
Information (in English) Tokyo Tower Event Page

Sunshine City

More kid-friendly than other venues, the observation deck at Sunshine City will open at 6:00 AM on January 1 to those who have reserved tickets in advance.

Estimated sunrise time 6:48 AM
Closest station Ikebukuro
Number of attendees 600
Information (in Japanese) Sunshine City Event Page

Vantean Cruise

Another option is to head to the open waters of Tokyo Bay to watch the first sunrise. Comes with a buffet and entertainment.

Estimated sunrise time 6:48 AM
Closest station Takeshiba
Number of attendees 600
Information (in Japanese) Vantean Cruise Event Page


If you’re willing to brave the elements, here are some outdoor locations where you might be able to catch a glimpse of the first sunrise, Tokyo style.

Shibaura Minami Futo Park

Rainbow Bridge adds a distinctly Tokyo feel to any photo. Photo: Justin C. via Flickr

This park rests under Rainbow Bridge, which can create a very Tokyo-esque shot of sunrise.

Estimated sunrise time 6:47 AM
Closest station Shibaura-futo
Location (Google Maps) Shibaura Minami Futo Park

Kasairinkai Park (Kasai Beach Park)

The ferris wheel should be operational overnight for a romantic way to start 2020! Photo: Zengame via Flickr

The park draws quite a crowd since it is just due west of Disneyland, so when the sun rises, it’ll rise over the Cinderella Castle in Tokyo Disneyland.  For New Year’s Eve, the ferris wheel will be operational throughout the night.

Estimated sunrise time 6:47 AM
Closest station Kasai-Rinkai-Koen
Information (in Japanese) Kasai Beach Park Event Page

Mount Takao

Ever popular Mount Takao is another place to check out the first sunrise of the year. It gets quite cold at 599m above sea level, so make sure you dress accordingly.The cable car and lift operation schedule for New Year’s can be found on the Mount Takao Event Page.

Estimated sunrise time 6:48 AM
Closest station Takaosanguchi
Information (in Japanese) Mount Takao Event Page

Hachijojima

Feeling adventurous? Hachijojima is within Tokyo jurisdiction, but is a 55 minute flight (or 10 hour ferry ride) away. The Miharashi Hot Springs will open at 5:30 AM on New Year’s Day for those kicking off 2020 with a soul soothing dip in scalding water. Thrill seekers might feel inclined to seek a higher vantage point by hiking up Hachijofuji Mountain. 

Estimated sunrise time 6:40 AM
Closest transportation Hachijojima Airport
Information (in Japanese) Miharashi Hot Springs New Year’s Hours Page

 

However you choose to ring in the New Year, plan ahead and stay safe!

Sunrise from Mt. Fuji. Although this time in winter the top is covered in snow/ice and the trails are inaccessible, those who want to take a vacation from Tokyo can travel to the areas around Yamanashi for a sunrise that includes a Mount Fuji Silhouette! Photo: iStock stock photo

All estimated times are from tenki.jp and nearby landmarks were used in case the exact location was not listed.

Article by: Scott Kouchi

Lead photo: blake.thornberry via Flickr


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