A Hidden Gem Near Tokyo! Isehara: The Most Japanese Experience of Your Life

First Sunrise of the Year 2024: Top 5 Places in Japan for Hatsuhinode

This service includes sponsored advertisements.
article thumbnail image

Hatsuhinode, the first sunrise of the year, refers to the Japanese tradition of watching the first sunrise on New Year's Day. We introduce five famous locations to view the first sunrise in 2024 along with tips and sunrise times for each spot.

Latest update :
Hatsuhinode (First Sunrise of the Year) - Japanese Encyclopedia

Like many countries around the world, January 1 marks the beginning of the New Year in Japan.

The first day of the year is called Oshogatsu (New Year's) or Gantan. At this annual celebration, families gather to ring in the New Year. It's the most important holiday observed in Japan.

Since the entire country is partaking in festivities at home, you won't find large-scale public events, such as the ball drop in New York's Times Square. Moreover, many businesses, from restaurants to department stores, are closed on January 1.

There is, however, a special custom of viewing the first sunrise of the year that is practiced widely in Japan. Read on to learn more about this custom and five famous locations for viewing the first sunrise of the year.

The First Sunrise of the Year in Japan 2024

Hatsuhinode: Cultural Background
5 Locations for Viewing the First Sunrise of the Year
1. Mount Tsukuba near Tokyo
2. Cape Inubosaki in Choshi, Chiba
3. Oarai Coast in Ibaraki
4. Bungo Futamigaura Bay in Saiki, Oita
5. Tokyo Skytree and Tokyo Tower
Where Does the Sun Rise First?

Hatsuhinode: The First Sunrise of the Year

Hatsuhinode (First Sunrise of the Year) - Japanese Encyclopedia

The first sunrise to grace the morning of January 1 is called hatsuhinode or goraiko; these terms describe a sunrise at the summit.

According to legend, Toshigamisama, the deity of the New Year, appears during the first sunrise of the year. Watching the first sunrise is a way to welcome Toshigamisama and the new year ahead.

While gazing at the first sunrise, the Japanese pray for good fortune. Some even make New Year's resolutions and set goals to improve their health and happiness.

5 Places to Watch the First Sunrise of the Year in Japan

The forest of skyscrapers in the cities tends to obstruct the views of the first sunrise. Therefore those who wish to enjoy this special way of welcoming the New Year will need to travel outside the city or to locations at higher altitudes.

Below we introduce some of the popular locations for viewing the first sunrise in Japan.

1. Mount Tsukuba in Tsukuba City, Ibaraki

Hatsuhinode (First Sunrise of the Year) - Japanese Encyclopedia

The first sunrise of the year seen from the summit of Mount Tsukuba. Photo by Pixta
The summit of Mount Tsukuba with its breathtaking views of the Kanto Plain is one of the most popular places for viewing the first sunrise of the year in eastern Japan. The summit can be easily reached by cable car and ropeway, which operate on January 1 on a special schedule.

On January 1, 2024, the Tsukuba Cable Car and Ropeway will operate from 4:30 in the morning.

The sunrise time from the summit of Mount Tsukuba on January 1, 2024, will be 6:44, which is the earliest in eastern Japan.

The sunrise can be enjoyed from both peaks, Nyotai-san (877 m) and Nantai-san (871 m), as well as from the summit area in between. Tsukubasan Shrine, located near the foot of the mountain, close to the Miyawaki Cable Car Station, is an excellent location for the first shrine visit of the year.

Hatsuhinode (First Sunrise of the Year) - Japanese Encyclopedia

Koma Observatory. Photo by Pixta

Please note that the Koma Observatory and Restaurant will operate with restrictions from 6:30 to 7:30 on January 1; during this time, the facility can be accessed only by 50 people and will require an admission fee. After 7:30, both the observatory and the restaurant will operate as usual and entry will be free.

Also, please make sure to be dressed properly for winter weather, as temperatures before sunrise tend to be very low.

Hatsuhinode (First Sunrise of the Year) - Japanese Encyclopedia

Mount Tsukuba Ropeway. Photo by Pixta

For more information, please refer to the Mount Tsukuba Cable Car and Ropeway website (Japanese).

For details on how to get to Mount Tsukuba from Tokyo, read the MATCHA article linked below.

↑ Return to the top of article.

2. Cape Inubosaki in Choshi, Chiba Prefecture

Hatsuhinode (First Sunrise of the Year) - Japanese Encyclopedia

The first sunrise of the year at Cape Inubosaki. Photo by Pixta

Inubosaki Lighthouse, selected as one of the 100 Best Lighthouses in the World, is located at the easternmost point of Japan.

If we don't count the mountain peaks and remote islands, this is the earliest place in Japan to witness the first sunrise of the year. The sunrise gradually emerging from the horizon is a truly divine sight, attracting numerous visitors each year.

On January 1, 2024, the sun will rise at 6:46 at the Inubosaki Cape.

Some of the best sunrise viewing spots include the Inubosaki Coastline facing east of Choshi City, the Choshi Port Tower (opens at 6:00 AM, limited to the first 200 people), the Choshi Marukuru Mirai Hill Observatory (opens at 5:30 AM), and the rooftop and parking lot on the seaside front of Aeon Mall Choshi.

3. Oarai Coast and Oarai Isosaki Shrine in Ibaraki

Hatsuhinode (First Sunrise of the Year) - Japanese Encyclopedia

Photo by Pixta
One of the most famous places in Oarai City is Oarai Isosaki Shrine located on an elevation near the Oarai Coast. The coast faces the east, allowing for a spectacular view of the sunrise.

The sight of the morning sun rising directly above the shrine's Kamiso no Torii gate, located on a rock in the sea, is truly enchanting.

The Kamiso no Torii gate is said to be a "place where a deity descended," making the shrine itself a popular spot for hatsumode, the first shrine visit in the New Year.

On January 1, 2024, the sun will rise at 6:49 in Oarai. The location is visited by many people on this particular morning so we recommend arriving early.

↑ Return to the top of article.

4. Bungo Futamigaura Bay in Saiki, Oita Prefecture

Hatsuhinode (First Sunrise of the Year) - Japanese Encyclopedia

Photo by Pixta

Meotoiwa, also known as "the wedded cliffs," refers to two distinct cliffs connected by a shimenawa, a sacred straw rope. Situated in Bungo Futamigaura Bay in Saiki City, these iconic natural formations are renowned for their spiritual significance.

The shimenawa spans approximately 65 meters in length and weighs around two tons, and is meticulously handcrafted each December by local volunteers using straw.

Hatsuhinode (First Sunrise of the Year) - Japanese Encyclopedia

Photo by Pixta

Bungo Futamigaura is celebrated as a prime vantage point for catching the hatsuhinode, the first sunrise of the New Year. The area is adorned with illumination from December 24 to January 4.

On January 1, 2024, the sun will rise at 7:15 in Saiki. We suggest arriving at the Bungo-Futamigaura Bay a little earlier to enjoy the excitement before sunrise.

5. Tokyo Skytree and Tokyo Tower

Hatsuhinode (First Sunrise of the Year) - Japanese Encyclopedia

The view from the Tokyo Skytree observatory right after the first sunrise of the year. Photo by Pixta

Facilities such as Tokyo Skytree and Tokyo Tower have special operation hours on January 1, opening between 5:30 and 7:30 for visitors to be able to view the first sunrise of the year from their observatories.

For such events, there is a limit to the number of people who can visit and admission requires a special fee. For January 1, 2024, the tickets for the first sunrise viewing at Tokyo Skytree and Tokyo Tower have sold out.

Tickets for Hatsuhinode events at tower observatories usually go on sale on December 1. We recommend keeping an eye on their official websites around December 1 if you wish to attend a hatsuhinode event.

↑ Return to the top of article.

Where Does the Sun Rise First?

The International Date Line is located in the middle of the Pacific Ocean. Thus, the first country to witness the dawn of a new year is Kiribati.

Although the "Land of the Rising Sun" experiences it a little later, Japan is on the western side of the Pacific Ocean and ushers in the New Year considerably earlier than the rest of the world.

For example, Japan's sunrise is two hours before Thailand's, nine hours earlier than England's, and 14 hours preceding New York's.

Nevertheless, there are considerable differences between the easternmost and westernmost locations in Japan, so the time of the first sunrise depends on your location.

On January 1, 2024, the sun rises at 6:51 in Tokyo, 7:05 in Osaka, and 7:23 in Fukuoka.

Also, whether the sunrise is visible depends very much on the weather, so please take that into account, too, if you're planning a hatsuhinode viewing at New Year's.

↑ Return to the top of article.

Ring in the New Year With the First Sunrise!

Not just limited to the first sunrise of the year, the Japanese word "hatsu" is assigned to any activity done for the first time in the New Year.

For instance, the first visit to a shrine is known as hatsumode. There's also hatsuyume or first dream, while the first laugh is coined hatsuwarai.

Wouldn't it be exciting to celebrate the New Year in another country and culture? As Japan rings in another year a step ahead of other countries, watching the first sunrise of the year in Japan may be a wonderful way to start the New Year.

Written by

This is the official account of MATCHA's English editorial team. We are bringing you the latest travel information on Japan.

Our beautiful cover photo features the fall foliage at Lake Kinrin in Yufuin (photo by Pixta). We hope you'll have a wonderful time exploring Japan.

The information presented in this article is based on the time it was written. Note that there may be changes in the merchandise, services, and prices that have occurred after this article was published. Please contact the facility or facilities in this article directly before visiting. Some of our articles contain affiliate links. We kindly ask our readers to exercise careful judgement when making a purchase or booking a service online.

Top Articles

There are no articles in this section.