Millions on Japanese ushered in the new year early Monday by visiting shrines, as well as going to vantage spots to watch the first sunrise (hatsuhinode) of 2018.
The big shrines were packed as usual just after midnight and again during the day. Meiji Shrine in Tokyo, in particular, welcomes a huge wave of worshippers each year on Jan 1.
Officials at the gigantic shrine said Sunday they expected three million visitors in the first three days of the new year. Smaller neighborhood shrines throughout the country also received a steady stream of visitors.
Seeing the first sunrise of the year has become a ritual in Japan. Despite an overcast day and a high of only 5 degrees in Tokyo on Sunday, the skies were blue and the temperature rose to 12 degrees in the capital Monday morning, providing spectacular views of the dawn from Tokyo Skytree, Tokyo Tower and several beaches in the Kanto region.
For those wanting a different view, this year, low cost carrier Solaseed Air offered a round-trip flight from Tokyo to Miyazaki for 160 people. Passengers on the special first sunrise flight gathered at Haneda Airport in Tokyo at around 4:40 a.m. The flight left just before sunrise. It returned to Tokyo just after 3 p.m.© Japan Today