Although the traditional hatsumode (first temple visit) is still on virtually every Japanese person's agenda during the New Year holidays, the start of the grand sales at stores across the country are a close second in terms of crowds. To help you decide on what day to queue up from the crack of dawn – this stuff isn't for the weak of heart, especially if you're looking to grab a fukubukuro – we've rounded up the starting dates for most of the major sales in Tokyo.
Note: opening times refer to the first day – check individual store details for other dates.
The Nihonbashi branch has menswear, womenswear, children's clothing, furniture and kimono spread across seven floors. The massive Shinjuku branch – Takashimaya Times Square – contains a host of boutiques and restaurants, plus a branch of hardware shop Tokyu Hands.
Sales: from January 2 (Tuesday), exact dates for the boutiques vary by brand
This big department store near the east exit of Ikebukuro Station carries fashion, food and homewares. It’s one of the busiest shops in Japan in terms of customers, and has a lot of popular in-store concessions such as Mujirushi Ryohin, Libro, Loft and Illumus.
Sales: from January 1 (Monday)
With part of it spreading all the way inside Shinjuku Station around the New South exit, Newoman features not only plentiful shops, cafés and restaurants but also a full-scale concert hall/event space, a rooftop garden, a kindergarten and a clinic.
Sales: January 3 (Wednesday) to January 8
Occupying a prime slab of Harajuku real estate, this ambitious development houses fashion shops like American Eagle Outfitters and The Shel'tter Tokyo in a complex crowned with a verdant public park – and a spectacular wall-of-mirrors entrance.
Sales: January 1 (Monday) to January 31
Roppongi Hills is an entire mini city – with 200 shops and restaurants, the Grand Hyatt hotel, many private apartment buildings, a multiplex cinema, a TV studio and the colossal Mori Tower, which is topped by the excellent Mori Art Museum and Tokyo City View observation deck.
Sales: January 1 (Monday) to January 14
One of teenage Tokyo’s hallowed sites, Laforet is located in the heart of Harajuku, on the corner of Omotesando and Meiji-dori; this multi-level emporium contains numerous small boutiques selling clothes and accessories aimed at young wearers of garish, eccentric fashion.
Sales: January 25 (Thursday) to January 29