One of the major sightseeing spots in Tokyo, and indeed in Japan, is the city's oldest temple, Sensoji, which was founded in 645 in the Asakusa district of present-day Taito Ward. Though perpetually thronged with people, its beautiful precincts attract staggering numbers at New Year's, when this is invariably one of the nation's five most popular venues for those making their traditional first temple visit of the year.

From early morning on the second day of the new year, however, there are also long queues just one street west of the temple's Nakamise arcade of age-old shops and food stalls.

These people are waiting in front of Asakusa Kokaido (Asakusa Public Hall) to see the stars of the monthlong Shinshun Asakusa Kabuki (Asakusa New Year's Kabuki) staged there, as they offer new-year greetings and hold a kagami-biraki ceremony, in which the lids of sake barrels are broken open with wooden mallets before the contents are shared with everyone present.