New Year in Japan is the most important family holiday celebrated at home or in the shrine. It is believed that each new year gives an opportunity to start afresh and you will often hear of bonenkai, or forgetting the past year parties which are held with the purpose of leaving the old year’s worries and troubles behind. December is a busy month in every household, as the houses are thoroughly cleaned and decorated with special elaborate centerpieces made of three bamboo stalks. On New Year’s Eve families get together and often enjoy a meal of toshikoshi soba, or buckwheat noodles which is believed to prolong life. Many families choose to greet New Year at their shrine. As midnight nears, the air is filled with the sound of bells. Buddhist temples all over the country strike the bell 108 times as a symbol of 108 worldly desires like greed and jealousy. It is believed that each strike of the bell removes one sin from you until you are completely rid of your troubling desires. It is also very common to start the year by viewing the first sunrise, and try to make January 1st as joyous and fun-filled as possible.
As fascinating as it all sounds, we decided to spend our New Year’s Eve in a less traditional environment. We started the night at Grand Central Oyster Bar where we met up with our friend from work in Georgia who happened to be in Tokyo on a short visit. It was lovely to catch up and remember good old days spent in Tbilisi. All this was enjoyed over a delicious platter of oysters and seafood salads.
After talking our hearts out and having our appetites properly satiated, it was time to party. While the extent of New Year’s public festivities won’t compare to that of London or New York, there are still a few events in Tokyo that are perfect for welcoming the new year. With proper advance planning we were able to snag two tickets for Countdown Party at Park Hyatt. We arrived to an elaborate lounge party held at the Peak Bar on the 41st floor, which has breathtaking views over the glittering city. Music was simply outstanding with three highly acclaimed DJs – DJ Sarasa, DJ Kawasaki and Sacho – providing entertainment the entire night. Catering was equally flawless, as the staff served a medley of scrumptious canapes and snacks and refilling our glasses with free flowing, unlimited champagne whenever we were lacking. We also had access to four open bars which served seductive array of cocktails. Everything was perfectly thought-out and organized in the most luxurious way. As you can guess, it was also a good time to test my new camera and I pretty much LOVE how it is performing (minus the blurry photos due to, you know, that free flowing alcohol).
You guys. With great views, music, food and free-flowing drinks it was THE night to remember. After one too many drinks we counted down to midnight and welcomed 2017! At that moment, I couldn’t help but remember my grandfather whom I lost last December 31st. He believed in one thing only – never grieving about the past and living life to the fullest. So here I was with the love of my life, overlooking dazzling lights of Tokyo and having the time of my life doing my best to continue his legacy. Cheers to fabulous 2017!
How did you all spend your New Year’s Night?