“Gantan” means New Year’s Day in Japanese. The term has particular significance given that the Chinese characters relate to the importance placed on the first sunrise of the year. The age-old belief that this event is auspicious comes from the belief that the first sunrise represents the emergence of Toshigami-sama, the god responsible for harvest. It is custom in Japan to pray for health and happiness for the coming year during the first sunrise.
Japanese households also make offerings of kagami-mochi (mirror-shaped sticky rice cakes) to Toshigami-sama during the New Year. Some families celebrate by putting up traditional decorations, such as kadomatsu (pine) and shimekazari (knotted rope), around their homes!
The shrine is also a hatsumode (first shrine visit of the year) spot. The main shrine will be lit up and from midnight on Jan. 1, New Year will be welcomed with the beat of taiko drums. Omiki (sake offered to the gods) will be given out after sunrise. From here you can admire Fukuoka Tower, Yahuoku! Dome, Nokonoshima and Uminonakamichi, or go mountain climbing at the nearby Mount Aburayama.
Aburayama Citizen’s Forest
A few kilometers south of Ohori Park is the Aburayama Citizen’s Forest. Drive (or cycle, it’s a great hill climb!) through the foothills of Aburayama and then stroll up to the park’s observation tower which stands 347 m above sea level. Another great spot is the park’s suspension bridge (tsuribashi 吊り橋). Views over the city and to the sea to the north!
• 6:00~ (on Jan. 1)
• Free entry and parking (for hatsuhinode visitors)
• 855-4 Hibaru, Minami-ku, Fukuoka
• Sunrise: 7:22
Tachibanayama is 272 m high and is known for being easy to hike – there’s even a trail for local kindergarteners! Getting to the summit would take from 30 min. to one hour depending on the trail. Check which trail you’ll be taking before you go. From here the mountain offers views of Island City, Shikanoshima, Nokonoshima, and even Itoshima further away.
Homanzan is one of the most popular mountains in the Fukuoka area, and one of the tallest. At 829 m high, the top offers incredible views across Fukuoka Prefecture. On a clear day you can see from the north coast of Fukuoka City to the Chikushi fields in the south. If you’re up for the hike, the views will be amazing. If you’re determined/half-goat you can do the hike in just over an hour but we recommend you stay the night at the Homanzan campsite, located near the summit of the hike. Read our hiking guide for advice on getting to the top.
Homanzan mountain hut
• Reservations: 092-922-4106
At only 258 m high, Tenpaizan is much more accommodating for the early start. The route up is gentle and well surfaced, making it perfect for novice hikers. The viewing platform at the top of the mountain gives views across Fukuoka, Dazaifu and Chikushino cities. Read our hiking guide for details on how to get to the top.
Photo: Oscar Boyd
• Inside Tenpaizan Historical Park
• Musashi, Chikushino City
• Sunrise: 7:21
Nokonoshima Observation Tower
From Nokonoshima you’ll be able to see the Fukuoka coastline as the sun rises above it. From the island, you can see Fukuoka landmarks such as the Yahuoku! Dome and Fukuoka Tower lit up by the first sun of the year. Great hatsuhinode spots on the island include the island’s central observation tower and the beach to the east of the ferry terminal.
Photo: Oscar Boyd
• First ferry: Around 7:15 (from Meinohama)
• 1608-26 Noko, Nishi-ku, Fukuoka
• Sunrise: 7:23
Shiomi Park is the highest point in Shikanoshima which offers superb 360-degree views including Uminonakamichi, Hakata Bay and the cityscape of Fukuoka. You’ll be able to see a beautiful, sparkling hatsuhinode reflected on the waves from here.
• 968-1 Shikanoshima, Higashi-ku, Fukuoka
• Sunrise: 7:23
NOTE: The information presented here was gathered and summarized by the Fukuoka Now staff. While we have done our best to check for accuracy, there might be errors and details may have changed. If you notice any errors or changes, please contact us. This report was updated in Dec. 2019.