First sunrise of the year hatsuhinode Japan kanto area

Information for the first sunrise, Hatsuhinode 初日の出, in Saitama, Tokyo, Chiba and Ibaraki in 2022. However, some of the locations in this post are suited to watching a sunrise anytime of the year. Unfortunately, there are also some that do not open for sunrise except for the very first sunrise of the year on January 1st.

If you’ve read any other of my blog posts about January in Japan, you’ve probably already got the message that it is my favorite month in Japan. One of the main reasons for that is all the New Year events, such as Hatsumode (first shrine visit) , Dezome Shiki (fire fighting acrobats!), Daruma Market, Shishimai (Lion Dance), New Year races… etc. And one of my favorites: Hatsuhinode…

First sunrise Saitama 2022

Hatsuhinode is the first sunrise of the year. It is an important aspect of New Year’s celebrations in Japan. Not least of all because Japan was created by the Sun Goddess Amaterasu. Once upon a time it was believed that a God bringing good luck appeared with the first sunrise. So people endeavored to witness the first sunrise of the year. To this day, many people still get up after just a couple of hours of sleep for Hatsuhinode. For Saitama, Tokyo and mainland Kanto, the first sunrise of 2022 is generally expected to be visible at about 6.50 am, weather permitting of course. 

Sunrise times 2022

Sunrise times in chronological order for the locations included in this post:

  • Chiba 6.49 am
  • Ibaraki 6.50 am
  • Tokyo 6.51 am
  • Saitama 6.53 am

Unlike in Tokyo where there are so many skyscrapers, in Saitama it is possible to see the sun rising in most cities and towns. You can most likely watch it from your own living room or the upper floor of your house or the roof of your apartment block. The God of fortune will smile on you from wherever you watch the sunrise. However, you can also opt for viewing events or travel to a location renowned for an unmitigated view, such as;

10 places to watch the sunrise in Saitama

  1. Chichibu Highland Ranch
  2. Tomb of the Unknown Soldiers
  3. Kodai Hasu no Sato, Gyoda
  4. Mt Tenran, Hanno
  5. Sakitama, Gyoda
  6. Ohashi bridge, Kazo
  7. Chichibu Muse Park
  8. Katsuraki (Katsuragi) Temple
  9. Mitsune Shrine / Mt Kumotori
  10. Mt Hodo, Nagatoro

1. Chichibu Highland Ranch

There is something very special about Chichibu Highland Ranch, also known as Sai no Kuni Fureai farm. Part of the farm is in Higashichichibu village, another, where the famous poppies in the sky are, is in Minano Town. The sunrise is best viewed from the Higashi Chichibu side. At 766 meters above sea level the ranch affords a great view of Saitama below and you can see as far as Tokyo Skytree. You can sometimes see a sea of clouds from the top of the mountain too. Once we had the very great pleasure to be in the sea of clouds while waiting for the sun to set. The farm itself isn’t officially open for the first sunrise, but a lot of the grounds are accessible at all times. It is a lovely place to watch the sunrise over Tokyo and the Skytree. Best part is, you can drive right up to beside the viewing area.

Address: 2951 Sakamoto, Higashichichibu, Chichibu District, Saitama 355-0372.
On Google Maps.
Official website
Location information in English

2. Tomb of the Unknown Soldiers

Another place you can see Tokyo Skytree is at the tomb of the unknown soldiers on top of Sakuranoyama park on Taikaizan (Mt Taikai). This spot is little known outside the area, but is a very popular spot among locals for viewing the sunrise. The position of the memorial on top of the mountain affords unspoiled panoramic views all year round making it the perfect place for witnessing the first sunrise of the year. Another benefit of this location is that you can park close to the site or chose to hike up the 200 meter high mountain. It is an easy and pleasant hike. Please note, that you would want to arrive very early to secure parking at the parking lot at the foot of the stairs that lead to the tomb.

Address: Ogose, Iruma District, Saitama 350-0416.
On Google Maps.
Official website
Location information in English

3. Kodai Hasu no Sato

Kodai Hasu no Sato is the park famed for its rice art in Autumn and its ancient lotus that bloom in the summer. It is in Gyoda city. Due to the Coronavirus this year, you need to book in advance for the pleasure of watching the sunrise from the park’s observation tower. You can see Mt Fuji from the observation tower in Kodai Hasu no Sato on a very clear day. They only accept 70 people. Currently, registration is open and will remain open until December 12th 2021. Entrance into the observation tower costs 400 yen for adults and 200 yen for children of school going age. The tower is open from 6 am to 9 am especially for the occasion.

Another place that has a sunrise viewing from an observatory tower, is the peace museum in Higashimatsuyama City. It is also another long running sunrise event held every New Year’s morning. It always requires booking in advance, not just during this period with Covid. They limit the numbers so that everyone has a good view.

Address: 2375-1 Kobari, Gyoda, Saitama 361-0024.
On Google Maps.
Official website
Location information in English

4. Mt Tenran

Mount Tenran in Hanno is another location in Saitama where you can combine the first view of Mt Fuji with the first sunrise. It is an easy to climb mountain of just 195 meters. Sunrise at Mt Tenran in 2022 is 6.52 am in 2022. If you search for places to see the first sunrise in Saitama in the Japanese language, very few actually come up. But of those that do, this location features most (Google SERP).

Address: Hanno, Saitama 357-0063 .
On Google Maps.
Official website
Location information in English (JapanTravel website)

5. Sakitama ancient burial park

In the last couple of years Sakitama ancient burial park has become a popular place for watching the first sunrise of the year. There has been official New Year events in the past, but not since the pandemic. What better place to watch the sunrise than from atop an ancient burial mound! Sakitama Shrine is just across the road, so you could combine the first sunrise with the first prayers of the year too.

Address: 4834 Sakitama, Gyoda, Saitama 361-0025.
On Google Maps.
Official website
Location information in English

6. Ohashi bridge

The Tonegawa (river), Ohashi bridge in Kazo, has long been a famous place for an uninhibited sunrise view. And that all important first view of Mt Fuji. Moreover, the view of the sun rays splitting the Tobu-Nikko railway bridge over the Tone River is a focal point for photographers. Thus, this location is usually buzzing on new Year’s morning. This is another of only a few locations that have information in Japanese language available specifically for the New Year sunrise viewing. If you want a quieter river view location, take a look at the swan habitat in Kawajima.

Address: Kazo, Saitama 349-1212.
On Google Maps.
Official website

7. Chichibu Muse Park

Chichibu Muse Park is another famous place to view the first sunrise of the year in Saitama Prefecture. There are various places you can watch the sun rise in the park, but the most popular is near parking lot ten. From that observatory, at 363 meter above sea level, overlooking the Chichibu basin, you can see the sunrise over Mt Buko. They open parking lot ten especially for the occasion. But as it is a very popular spot, expect congestion!

(Chichibu Muse Park replaced Dodaira on the list in 2021/2022.)

Address: 2518 Nagaru, Ogano-machi, Chichibu-gun, Saitama 368-0102.
On Google Maps.
Official website
Location information in English

8. Katsuraki (Katsuragi) Temple

Katsuraki (or Katsuragi) Temple is located in the Takinoiri area of Moroyama town in Iruma County. The area around the temple is famed for both its Yuzu and its roses. On the grounds of the temple there is a viewing platform, set 300 meters above sea level. On a clear day you can see Tokyo Sky Tree. Apart from being a popular spot for “Hatsuhinode”, it is also known for its night view.

Address: 814-1 Takinoiri, Moroyama, Iruma District, Saitama 350-0456.
On Google Maps.
Official website

9. Mitsumine Shrine / Mt Kumotori

Mitsumine Shrine needs little introduction to anyone living in Saitama Prefecture. It is one of the most famous shrines in Saitama Prefecture. Moreover, you can also practice hatsumode here. For hikers, Mt Kumotori is a special place for the first sunrise of the year. Located further up the Okuchichibu mountain range than Mitsumine shrine, the peak also straddles both Tokyo and Yamanashi and offers a view of Mt Fuji. However, at two thousand meters high it is hard to get to and is not for the faint-hearted!

Address: 298-1 Mitsumine, Chichibu, Saitama 369-1902 .
On Google Maps.
Official website
Location information in English (Chichibu Geo Website)

10. Mt Hodo, Nagatoro / Minano

In recent years, the Hodosan ropeway runs from early morning on New Year’s day to accommodate people who want to watch the first sunrise from the top of the mountain. Furthermore, a shuttle bus runs from Nagatoro station to the base ropeway station. The bus will run from 5.40 am and the first ropeway is at 6 am. Moreover, visitors will be gifted a Kairo (a pocket heat pack) to keep them warm! In addition, there will be a food cart open by the summit station selling amazake and tonjiru. After watching the sunrise, how about participating in hatsumode at the famous, stunning Hodosan shrine? In addition, you can be one of the first to ride the Nagatoro kotatsu-bune, which will start from 10 am on January 1st 2022!

Address: 1738 Kanasaki, Minano, Chichibu District, Saitama 369-1621.
On Google Maps.
Official website
Location information in English

Tokyo Hatsuhinode

It is quite difficult to see the rising sun in many parts of Tokyo, but there are some places that enjoy a view.  How about from 150 metres up? Tokyo Tower opens it doors at 6 am on New Year’s day. They do charge for the pleasure and have a restriction on the number of people they are letting up the tower, so do arrive early if you want to be one of them.  

Rainbow promenade also has a limit on numbers, but it is free in. The Telecom Centre, one of Tokyo’s lesser known observation areas, also has a view for 500 yen per person.  If you happen to be in Haneda airport at 6.51 in the morning, you can see the sunrise from the domestic terminal 2 observation decks.

Kasai Rinkai Park is another popular place to view the first sunrise in Tokyo. In 2022, they have restricted use of bicycles in the park between 2 and 7 am due to the congestion. They have set up a temporary bicycle parking lot at the entrance of the aquarium. The park and its facilities are closed on the day, but it doesn’t stop hundreds of people coming to view the first sunrise of the new year. Official website.

Takao-san is always my recommendation though. Although crowded, it is one of the best places to ring in the New Year in Tokyo. The sunrise can normally be witnessed from Mt Takao, and Mt Mitake too. In 2022, that will be at about 6.49 am on New Year’s Day. Find out more about Mt Takao on New Year’s here.

Chiba Hatsuhinode

However, that is not the earliest you can see the sun rise for the very first time in the Kanto plain in 2021.  Choshi in Chiba owns that honor. You can see the sunrise at the Eastern most point of the Kanto area at about 6.46 am. The Choshi tourist association recommends Inubosaki, along the coast, as a viewing point. It is a free public area and there is free parking. You can also access this area from public transport as it is only a 7 minute walk from Inubosaki train station. Wrap up well though, it will be cold. Moreover, expect to share the honor with thousands of others. According to NHK, Choshi City reported that approximately 59,000 people gathered to watch the first sunrise of 2022!

Ibaraki

An honorable mention to Oarai beach in Ibaraki, where I watched many a sunset or sunrise when I lived in the almost 20 years ago! One of the most famous places for sunrise watching in Ibaraki is at the Oarai Isosaki Shrine. There one of the three gates, Kamiiso no Torii sits on a rock in the sea and faces east, a perfect spot to watch the sunrise.

Apart from countdown events in my home country, we don’t really mark the significance of the New Year. But in Japan, with all the New Year events, customs, practices and festivals, it is one of the best times of the year to be in Japan. It is cold, but the days are sunny and dry. Almost everyone is in festive spirits and there is an atmosphere much like the Christmas period in many Western countries.

Watching the First Sunrise

The first sunrise though is something quite different. I think it is more about personal reflection while connecting with Mother Nature. It is more of a private moment than many other of the New Year celebrations, even when you attend a Hatsuhinode viewing event with others. Ironically, the hatsuhinode events are, in my humble opinion, more mute and spiritual than the hatsumode (first shrine visit) ones. It is a beautiful tradition, well worth getting out of bed for!

Have you ever watched the first sunrise of the New Year? Where? And would you recommend it?

Based loosely on an article I wrote for City-cost six years ago:

When and where can I see the first sunrise of 2016? | Living | Choshi-shi, Chiba – Hachioji-shi, Tokyo | City-Cost

2 Comments

    1. Thank you so much Helen. It was a beautiful sunny day, but I stayed up much later than expected in the early hours and got up long past the sunrise. ;-( I’ll go watch it tomorrow instead. I hope you had a lovely Christmas and New Year and I hope all your dreams for 2016 come true. x

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