MY HUSBAND, MYSELF AND 12-YEAR-OLD DAUGHTER WILL BE IN KYOTO FROM DECEMBER 30 TO JANUARY 3. ARE SHOPS AND TOURIST SITES OPEN AND WHAT TO DO ON NYE? S. HECTOR, McLEOD VIC
New Year is a big occasion for family get-togethers and many shops and restaurants will be closed, although not those in hotels. Japan's distinctive New Year's cuisine, known as osechi ryori, is sold in big department stores, in the sort of ready-made packages that are a Japanese specialty. On New Year's Eve many Japanese head for temples to take part in joya-no-kane, the sacred bell-ringing ceremony, and it's traditional to visit Shinto shrines and Buddhist temples the next day, known as performing hatsumode. Expect big and lively crowds at the city's most popular temples. Many tourist attractions, such as the Imperial Palace, as well as banks and ATMs, will be closed between December 29 and January 4, but this is a festive time throughout Japan so join in with whatever the locals are doing.