The sight of a sunrise is familiar to early risers. On New Year’s Day the experience takes on a more special meaning — legend has it the sun goddess Amaterasu created this country after all.
So Jan. 1 is the one day that people who like to sleep in may be tempted to wake up early and experience hatsuhinode (the first sunrise of the year). Of course, late risers may be more easily convinced just to go all night on New Year’s Eve.
Japanese used to believe that Toshigami, a god bringing good luck, appeared with the first sunrise of the year. Therefore, you can benefit from hatsuhinode wherever you live, but nothing beats the majestic beauty of experiencing it with Mount Fuji in the background. While Japan’s most famous mountain can’t be climbed at this time of the year due to snow, there are several places that can still provide you with some excellent Instagram shots. These include spots in Yamanashi Prefecture such as Lake Motosu, Lake Yamanaka and the vicinity of a monument to the poet Kotaro Takamura (1883-1956) in the town of Fujikawa, where the sun should rise near 6:50 a.m.
Cape Inubo in Choshi, Chiba Prefecture, is expected to see one of the earliest sunrises in the country at 6:46 a.m., according to the Japan Coast Guard. The sun will only be seen earlier on Mount Fuji itself, and from the Izu and Ogasawara islands.
There’s always a chance of cold weather and a swarm of tourists descending on these spots on New Year’s Day, so be sure to dress warmly and leave for your destination early.