5 Spots Nationwide For a Beautiful First Sunrise of the Year
The first sunrise of the year is an auspicious occasion that only happens once a year. Many people in Japan go out to witness it. Here are five great spots to check out yourself.
1. Lake Shojin
The sacred mountain that has also become a World Heritage Site, Mt. Fuji, has the Five Lakes that spread out at its foot. One of them, Lake Shojin, is a great place to see the first sunrise from the foot of Mt. Fuji depending on weather. The sight of the sun rising through the perfectly clear air is magical. For people that want to solemnly witness the first sunrise, why not try here?
Estimated time of first sunrise: around 7:05am
2. Mt. Takao
Mt. Takao is easily accessible from the center of Tokyo, and thanks to its hiking paths and height of 599m, it is a relatively easy mountain and therefore is quite popular. It was chosen as one of Michelin's three-starred sightseeing areas. From the summit, you can see the sunrise from behind the groups of skyscrapers, which is this mountain's biggest charm. It's a very popular spot so it's very crowded every year, and depending on the crowds they may limit the number of people who can reach the summit, so it's recommended to come very early. If you can't go to the summit, please leisurely look at the sun from the Kasumidai observation deck or Takaosan Yakuouin.
Estimated time of first sunrise: around 6:47am
3. Seichoji Asahigamori
Asahigamori is a sacred area where the founder of Nichiren Buddhism, Nichiren Shonin, chanted the Lotus Sutra within Seichoji and decided to spread it. Appropriate of a miraculous place, you can gaze at a mystical first sunrise here. Also, within the grounds is a huge tree called Sennensugi that has been designated as a national natural monument that stands 47m, has a diameter of 15m, and is said to be 800 years old. There is plenty to see here. It's recommended to take a walk around after performing hatsumode (praying at a shrine or temple for the first time in the year).
Estimated time of first sunrise: around 6:44am
4. Shirahige Shrine
This shrine on the shores of Lake Biwa has existed for 1900 years and is one of the leading shrines in the history of the Omi (ancient name for Shiga) area. This is the main shrine of the more than 150 Shirahige Shrines all around the country. The huge vermilion torii gate is in the lake, and you can watch the sunrise behind it, so it's a popular spot. The torii gate in the lake interweaving with the sunrise is a beautiful sight like a painting, and it can truly be called exquisite. Seeing a gorgeous sunrise is a great way to begin a new year.
Estimated time of first sunrise: around 7:00am
5. Bungo Futamigaura
This famous sight consists of Japan's longest rope, reaching 65m and weighing 2t, that ties the 17m tall male rock and 10m female rock of the Meoto Iwa (married couple rocks). The rope is called "ooshimenawa," and it's used as a boundary and to stop impurities from entering the circle inside the rope. Many people visit every year to see the sun rise behind it for a mystical first sunrise of the year. Also, it's lit up from December 24th to January 4th, and that sight is also recommended.
Estimated time of first sunrise: around 7:18am
Praying at the first sunrise has been a Japanese custom since ancient times. Since you're already here, please go see that magical first sunrise!
*Please note that the information in this article is from the time of writing or publication and may differ from the latest information.
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