Preparations for the New Year (Year of the Dragon) rival that of North American Christmas preparations. Stayed up to midnight watching musical performance competitions on TV. At midnight we walked to a nearby Shinto shrine to pay our respects by ringing a bell and prayer. After we drank "amasaki" (sweet rice pre-saki) while standing around a large bonfire burning away 'the old year'. Next we walked to a Buddhist temple where we again prayed, rang a very large bell and again drank amasaki. Traditionally New Years is a Shinto celebration, but the Buddhists are trying to cash in as well.
The next morning's breakfast is the big meal which for many people is at least a five day weekend.