Life in Japan slows down considerably during the new year period — ōmisoka, on Dec. 31, and oshōgatsu, specifically Jan. 1, 2 and 3. So how do you fill this string of holidays? Why not stay in and watch some TV … it’s not like we’ve had too much of that over the past two years.

What sets this weekend apart from the rest of the year, though, is that you don’t need to binge a stream of videos on YouTube or catch up on all those Netflix shows you’ve been putting off for some quality entertainment. Japanese broadcast television’s slate of new year programming features star-studded blowouts that offer the perfect drip, drip, drip of moderately entertaining content to pass the time until 2022.

The most celebrated New Year’s Eve option remains NHK’s “Kohaku Uta Gassen” (Dec. 31, 7:30 p.m.), a music extravaganza that provides a snapshot of the year in music via a string of live performances. While not the ratings powerhouse it was in the past (many a Japanese grandmother will have the show on in the background during dinner), it’s still an incredibly popular way to count down the clock to midnight.

This year’s “Kohaku” balances heavyweights from the past with emerging new names, ranging from glum-pop purveyors Yoasobi to rockers Dish// to peppy popsters NiziU and more. Actors Haruna Kawaguchi and Yo Oizumi will take over hosting duties, and viewers can anticipate a slightly more progressive version of the show than what’s come in the past, as NHK has given the nod to shifting identity terms and the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals in promoting this year’s edition.

Usually, the best counter programming to “Kohaku” is comedy duo Downtown’s “Downtown no Gaki no Tsukai ya Arahende!!” That comedy buffet of slapping and spanking, though, is done for good, leaving a big hole in New Year’s Eve lineups.

You could fill it with violence, thanks to Fuji TV’s Rizin special (Dec. 31, 6 p.m.), which finds a loaded card of MMA fighters walloping on one another. Or you could try to find some new funny stuff courtesy of TV Asahi’s “Zawatsuku! Omisoka” (Dec. 31, 6 p.m.), broadcasting for the third year in a row and offering “humorous commentary” on various social trends.

The bulk of comedy and variety specials air in the first few days of 2022. The closest thing to “Gaki” might be “Geinojin Kakuzuke Check” (Jan. 1, 5 p.m.) on TV Asahi, wherein celebrities form teams to face various challenges, with this year’s lineup including comedians, musicians such as Yoshiki from X Japan, and baseball manager-turned-meme Shinjo.

For those craving something more traditional, there’s Nippon TV’s “Shoten” (Jan. 1, 3 p.m.), which channels ancient entertainment for laughs. A day later provides more variety, via the TBS culinary special “Bananaman no Sekkaku Gourmet” (Jan. 2, 5 p.m.) and TV Asahi’s “Sports King” (Jan 2, 6:30 p.m.), which focuses on athletes. Or, take part in a long Japanese tradition by watching the Hakone Ekiden, a long-distance marathon that is held on Jan. 2 and 3, and which will be broadcast on Nippon TV from 7 a.m.

Among the most anticipated New Year’s programming are special episodes of popular dramas. The problem is, unless you are familiar with said series, it might be a bit too much to take in when you are just trying to stay warm at home. The one exception is TV Tokyo’s venerable “Kodoku no Gourmet” New Year’s special (Dec. 31, 10 p.m.). The show revolves around a worker who goes around, eats meals at real restaurants by himself, and comments on them. That’s it. And it’s perfect. The 2021 special finds the titular solitary gourmet embarking on a road trip to gobble up all kinds of delights. It’s perfect holiday fare to let wash over you, as you prepare to face 2022.

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