While countries around the world ring in the new year with spectacular fireworks, Japan usually celebrates in a more modest way, with people flocking to shrines and temples shortly after midnight for hatsumode, the first prayer of the year. During this special time of year, Tokyo trains usually run throughout the night to carry the crowds to and from the best hatsumode spots around the city. It’s also a useful service for those planning a night out on the town.
However, we’ve got bad news for anyone who’s planning to stay out past midnight this New Year’s Eve. Shibuya has already cancelled its major New Year’s Eve countdown, forcing many to look for alternative options. And now there’s an added complication as Tokyo Metro has announced that its nine subway lines will not be running all night on New Year's Eve. This is sure to affect many passengers as Tokyo Metro trains serve some of the busiest stations in the city, such as Shibuya, Shinjuku, Ueno, Asakusa, Ikebukuro and Ginza.
What's more, the departure times of the last train services won’t be pushed back, with all Tokyo Metro trains to operate on the reduced Saturday and holiday schedule between December 30 and January 3. This means there will be fewer trains during the holiday season.
Tokyo Metro also cancelled its all-night New Year's Eve trains in 2020 after a request from the Tokyo Metropolitan Government due to the spread of Covid-19. And last year the operator ran a reduced service during the New Year holidays.
If you rely on Tokyo Metro trains, it might be a better idea to pay a visit to your neighbourhood shrine or temple this year to avoid being stuck in the city until the first trains start running at around 5am.
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