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Osaka Events in January 2020

By Georgios Kechagias
December 27, 2019
Updated: August 18, 2021

Are you planning to spend the winter holidays in Japan or are you already living in Tokyo and have no clue what to do for Oshogatsu, the Japanese New Year? Well, good news for you! Tokyo is not the only place where you can enjoy the Japanese New Year and hatsumode, the first shrine visit of the year.

How about a trip to Osaka? The funky capital of western Japan can offer you exciting experiences for a lifetime to remember. These Osaka events in January are full of shiny lights, traditional rituals, umami taste (it is Osaka, after all), art - both Western and Japanese - and a sweet aftertaste of strawberries!

Osaka Events in January 2020

Here are some of the top Osaka events in January!

  1. Hatsumode - Japanese New Year’s Eve at Sumiyoshi Taisha Shrine
  2. Hatsumode - Japanese New Year’s Eve at Taiyu-ji Temple
  3. Toka Ebisu Ritual at Imamiya Ebisu Shrine
  4. Doya Doya Festival at the Shiteno-ji Temple
  5. Winter Illumination Events in Osaka - Festival of Lights
  6. Winter Illumination Events in Osaka - Osaka Castle Illuminage
  7. Countdown Party at Universal Studios Japan (USJ)
  8. Countdown Party at the Ritz Carlton
  9. Kakomu de Kotatsu at Harukas 300 Observation Deck
  10. Strawberry Sweets Buffet at Hotel New Otani
  11. “Paris at the End of the Century” Exhibition at Sakai Alphonse Mucha Museum

1. Hatsumode - Japanese New Year’s Eve at Sumiyoshi Taisha Shrine

Sumiyoshi Taisha main shrine, exterior view

It is about time you paid your respects to the kami-sama (roughly, the gods or deities of the Shinto religion) and prayed for good luck, health, and prosperity. The number one choice of the Osakan people and other travelers, Japanese or not, is Sumiyoshi Taisha Shrine. Visiting the "Sumiyossan," as Osakans like to call the shrine, for hatsumode is one of a kind experience that’s definitely not for the agoraphobics. Up to 2 million people gather on the night of the 31st to celebrate the new year and the many food stalls and paths leading to the shrine, together with the people, will give you this Osaka-style hatsumode feeling. 

Dates: December 31 – January 3, 2020 (people may also participate in hatsumode later in the month to avoid the crowds)

Price: Free

Location: Sumiyoshi Taisha Shrine, Sumiyoshi

Website: http://www.sumiyoshitaisha.net

2. Hatsumode - Japanese New Year’s Eve at Taiyu-ji Temple

Tayuji Temple Main Hall, exterior view

While most people in Japan tend to visit shrines on Ganjitsu (New Year’s Day), another popular option for hatsumode is visiting Taiyu-ji Temple on New Year’s Eve to strike the bell. If you line up by midnight, you can strike the bell and receive a certificate, but only the first 108 people will receive it (108 is a sacred number in Buddhism).

Dates: December 31st 2019 - January 1st 

Time: From 23:45pm

Price: Free

Location: Taiyu-ji Temple, Kita

Website: https://www.city.osaka.lg.jp/contents/wdu020/kensetsu/english/rekishi/nakaturu/p28_e.htm

3. Toka Ebisu Ritual at Imamiya Ebisu Shrine

Toka Ebisu Ritual at Imamiya Ebisu Shrine, lucky daughters handing out lucky bamboo leaves

Besides hatsumode, there are a couple other Japanese New Year traditions that follow it and are related to Oshogatsu. One is the Toka Ebisu ritual at Imamiya Ebisu Shrine, where worshipers gather for a three-day ritual held for prosperity and pray to Ebisu, the god of commerce, asking, “Kotoshi mo osewa ni narimasu,” which translates to “Take care of us again this year.” At the peak of the festival on the 10th, the Purple Lantern Homa Rite is held. Over the course of three days, around one million people visit the shrine to receive the lucky bamboo leaves (called fukusasa) from the fukumusume “lucky daughters.”

Dates: January 9 11, 2020

Time: 9am - 9pm

Price: Free

Location: Imamiya Ebisu Shrine, Naniwa

Website: http://www.imamiya-ebisu.jp

4. Doya Doya Festival at the Shiteno-ji Temple

Doya Doya Festival at the Shiteno-ji Temple, men dressed only in red loincloth underwear

Another very important ritual takes place at the Doya Doya Festival at the Shiteno-ji Temple. At the end of Shushoe (a Buddhist Japanese New Year tradition lasting 14 days) at Shiteno-ji Temple, young men from high schools that are affiliated with the temple, dress only in red and white fundoshi (traditional loin-cloth underwear), and compete by grabbing paper charms that are thrown at them while they are splashed with cold water! The name of the festival derives from the “doya-doya” shouts of the young men and it is a very energetic sight to watch. Be sure to get there early!

Dates: 14th January, 2020

Time: 2pm – 6pm

Price: Free

Location: Shiteno-ji Temple, Tennoji

Website: http://www.city.osaka.lg.jp/tennoji/page/0000000288.html

5. Winter Illumination Events in Osaka - Festival of Lights

Winter Illumination Events in Osaka - Festival of Lights, Midosuji Avenue - trees with illumination decoration

One of the most stunning parts of the winter holidays in Japan is the festive illuminations, and of course, Osaka does not fall behind when it comes to flashy lights! The Festival of Lights goes on from November through to the end of December. You will be able to witness the Midosuji Illumination, the second illumination event, and the longest street of illuminated trees in the world, until New Year’s Eve! It will extend from Ooebashi-Kitazune Intersection to the Hanshin Mae Intersection, a remarkably long 4 kilometer stretch of lights!

Dates: November 4 – December 31, 2019

Time: 5pm – 11pm, depending on the show

Price: Free

Location: Osaka City Park and Nakanoshima Park Area, Midosuji Street

Website: https://www.hikari-kyoen.com/en

6. Winter Illumination Events in Osaka - Osaka Castle Illuminage

Winter Illumination Events in Osaka - Illumination of the Osaka Castle, Osaka Castle made of neon-lights and illumination decorated trees

Another notable, but not free of admission event, is the Osaka Castle Illuminage. Taisho and Meiji eras are the inspiration for this one, allowing you to step back through time. Installations include Western-style art and there's even a Roman-style dining experience!

Dates: November 22, 2019 – March 1, 2020

Time: 5:30pm - 9:30pm

Price: Adults (at the door): ¥1,500, children (at the door) ¥800

Location: Osaka Castle, Chuo

7. Countdown Party at Universal Studios Japan (USJ)

Countdown Party at Universal Studios Japan, Globe sculpture with Universal Studios logo

What would New Year’s Eve be without a countdown party? Get ready for some Hogwarts-style pumpkin juice while you party until the end of the year with Harry, Spidey, and other Universal Studio movie characters! Special performances, fireworks, and parades will make sure you feel like a movie hero as you enter 2020!

Dates: December 31, 2019 – January 1, 2010

Time: 7pm - 2am

Price: Advance tickets: ¥15,480 (adults)

Location: Universal Studios Japan, Konohana

Website: https://www.usj.co.jp/e/

8. Countdown Party at the Ritz Carlton

Doorman stand outside the Ritz Carlton Osaka, dressed in neat black suits

If a classy party is more like your scene, you love live jazz, and you are into a bit of (harmless) gambling, then the countdown party at the Ritz Carlton is the place to be. With a nomihodai all-you-can-drink bar, a buffet including toshikoshi soba (Japanese New Year noodles), and a Grand Ballroom full of shine and glitter, put on your dancing shoes and waltz your way into the new year!

Dates: December 31, 2019

Time: 9:30pm – 12:15pm

Location: The Ritz Carlton, Kita

Website: https://www.ritzcarlton.com/en/hotels/japan/osaka

9. Kakomu de Kotatsu at Harukas 300 Observation Deck

Kakomu de Kotatsu at Harukas 300 Observation Deck, night view from the abeno harukas 300 building

This is your chance to get an astonishing view from Japan’s tallest building, while warming your feet under the blanket of the low table, called a kotatsu in Japanese! Indulge in delicious seafood like the Harukas 300 signature tabehoudai all-you-can-eat course, which includes oden stew made with sea bream broth. Or, order the pork shabu shabu with yuzu citrus, to please your palate. 

Dates: November 9, 2019 - April 12, 2020

Time: 

Weekdays 3pm - 10pm

Saturdays, Sundays & Public Holidays 11.30am - 10pm

*Last Order - 21:30

Price: (Both courses include admission to the observatory)

  • Harukas 300 specialty “Sea bream broth Harukas Oden stew all-you-can-eat course”: 4,000 yen
  • “Sangen special pork shabu shabu hotpot with yuzu citrus”: 5,500 yen

Location: Harukas 300, Abeno

Website: https://www.abenoharukas-300.jp/observatory/index.html

10. Strawberry Sweets Buffet at Hotel New Otani

Strawberry sweets buffet - Parisienne confectionaries, Japanese Christmas strawberry cake

Now, if you have a sweet tooth, we’ve got good news for you! It is strawberry season in Japan, and there are several places where you can savor these delicate strawberry sweets. French pastry chef, Jimmy Boulay, will prepare original Parisienne sweets with sweet Japanese strawberries. While your taste buds are delighted by those confectionaries, you can enjoy the staggering view from the window of Hotel New Otani Osaka.

Dates: December 26th, 2019 – May 6th, 2020

Time: 3pm - 5pm

Price: ¥4,900 - ¥6,600 (see website for details)

Location: Hotel New Otani Osaka, Chuo

11. “Paris at the End of the Century” Exhibition at Sakai Alphonse Mucha Museum

Paris at the end of the century - Art Exhibition, colorful exhibition poster

Last but not least, an exhibition for art lovers. If you have already tried the Parisienne strawberry sweets, why not complete your Paris experience in Osaka by visiting the Sakai Alphonse Mucha Museum. Admire works of Sakai Alphonse and his contemporaries, who ventured beyond the boundaries of Art Nouveau.

Dates: October 19, 2019 - March 1, 2020

Time: 9:30 am - 5:15 pm (last entry at 4:30 pm)

Price: Adults: ¥510, High School and University Students: ¥310, Elementary and Junior High School students: ¥100

Location: Sakai Alphonse Mucha Museum , Sakai

Website: http://mucha.sakai-bunshin.com/

All in all, Osaka in January has a lot to offer for all tastes and ages. From hatsumode to Oshogatsu festivities, countdown parties, winter illuminations, gastronomic events, and art exhibitions, these winter events make a trip to Osaka worthwhile.

For more things to do in "the nation's kitchen," browse food experiences in Osaka!

We strive to be as accurate as possible and keep up with the changing landscape of Japan’s food and travel industries. If you spot any inaccuracies, please send a report.
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Georgios Kechagias
Georgios is a modern nomad, changing countries and places when he has had his fill. He's curious about different cultures and experiences, like a 5-year old with a special focus on food. Proof of the latter can be found in the photo.
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