Spending the New Year in Tokyo: if you’re Japanese/ a native Tokyo-ite, you’ll be packing up to visit home. Professionals don’t get too many holidays a year, and the new year is an acceptable time to go home and spend time with the family.
For foreigners, Tokyo becomes their playground. Visitors come to dance the night away in Tokyo’s amazing musical venues; to gorge themselves on sushi, ramen, soba, okonomiyaki, and shop the year’s sales. You’ll notice more Chinese, English, and South Asian tourists, but when it came time to pre-game and prepare to ring in the new year, the usually busy and bustling subways emptied out and left me to my journey back to the hotel.
It was a bizarre respite: Tokyo had been a constant buzz of activity, of embarrassing excuse me’s as I forgot to stay left, not right, up the stairs; of nodding my head and bowing slightly when I bumped into others, overwhelmed by lights, stairs, arrows, signs, crowds of people, other confused tourists.