I’ve lived all of my life later than New York.  Until now.  This is the first New Year’s Eve that I’ll have lived where I can’t watch the ball drop in Time Square because it hasn’t DROPPED yet!  So what’s a body to do?

My Googling fingers found this very succinct answer to most of my questions about New Year’s celebrations in Japan.  My favorite is the New Year’s cards — evidently cards can be dropped off at your local post office beginning in December and the cards are sent on to the delivering post offices who HOLD THEM until New Years day when a whole stack is delivered to your door.  I just love Christmas cards so this sounds super fun to me.  And I’m always happy for an excuse for more soba — so we’ll plan on that for the Eve.

I had really wanted to find a little local shrine to go to an “ring the bell” for New Year’s (I’d done it on a trip to Japan years ago).  I can’t find any info on that, but Shuri Castle is doing it.  They are also doing tons on the traditional holidays of Jan. 1-3.

I loved all the Christmas activity suggestions, so wanted to give ya’ll the chance to tell us what you know about programs/activities/fun stuff to participate in on New Year’s Eve & Day.  Comment away!


  1. How much confidence can I put in an article that admits it only googled the subject? You should send the money you get from advertising on your site back. As a writer I find it insulting that you post sub par articles like this. As a reader it will be the last time I visit this site.

  2. I realize this post is a bit past it’s sell-by date, but I’ve been slacking on keeping up with the blog lately (holidays were fun). So I’m just getting around to this out-of-date info on shrines that were hopping for New Year’s. Okinawa, from what I can tell, has only a hand full of popular shrines. The closest I know of to base areas is very close indeed, Futenma Shrine ( ), on 330, just south of Camp Foster’s Legion Gate, on the right side of the road, right where you’d have to turn left to stay on 330 (don’t, stay right & you’ll see it sticking out like an ornate Buddhist shrine in the middle of a lackluster urban sidewalk).

    My wife & I were fortunate enough to go into Naha on Saturday, Jan 5 to witness the New Year’s worshipping being done at the very popular & scenic Naminoue Shrine. It was a nice visit to pair with Fukushu-En Park (awesome Chinese gardens; ) which is within walking distance (park once, check out 2 scenic places). It’s fairly easy to find by heading south on 58 into Naha & looking for the white sign with blue lettering that points where you should turn right (towards the west coast & East China Sea). The shrine itself sits on a rocky bluff overlooking the ocean & Naminoue Beach, quite cool looking. The vendors of food & trinkets were out in full force as were the worshippers & a few camera-wielding tourists (like ourselves).

  3. Thanks Joelle:) I didn’t know there would be fireworks either. We live right by the gardens and my 2 yr old is terrified of them! I’m just glad we have a couple days off from hearing them:) Oh and for anyone that still wants to go to the gardens, if you can’t find a parking space there you can park over on Camp Shields in the housing area along the side of the road. They opened up the back sheilds gate that is directly across the street from the entrance to the botanical gardens.

  4. We went to the Southeast Botanical Gardens last night for the “illumination” and the laser show. They won’t be doing the laser thingy again until New Years, so thought I’d post it here. It is quite expensive 18-2000Y — but it really was nice. EVERYTHING is lit up with animals and creatures of light in every possible place. I was quite impressed (cuz I was expecting a little Micky-Mouse sort of thing). The laser show was interesting, with a story about the “Blue Bird of Happiness” which is explained in English at the beginning of the show. My little ones did great during the lights and lasers but I had no clue there was going to be a little fireworks display at the end. THIS did not go over well with the little people — “Mommy I’m skeerd.” But overall, a good time had by all. Would suggest it for New Years.

  5. We did Shuri Castle on the 2nd last year and it was really cool to see. I would highly recommend it. They do part outside of the castle which was traditional Okinawan Dancers and inside the “pay area” is where they did majority of it. It was cool to watch them dressed in traditional clothes from when the castle was really working and bow and all that fun stuff. There was also free sake samples for those that drink (don’t know if it was good or not, don’t drink so didn’t try any!)