You might need to pack it in early or be prepared to go all night.

It’s pretty easy to spot the potential problem with this series of things about life in Japan.

1. The traditional way to spend New Year’s Eve is going to a temple or shrine late at night, so that you can be there as the clock strikes midnight and the new year begins.
2. In big cities, most people don’t own a car, and rely on public transportation to get around.
3. Trains and busses usually stop running around midnight, and don’t start again until sunup.

Thankfully, many rail operators make an exception to that third point and run a special schedule of extra trains in the early hours of January 1, so that people making their temple/shrine visits won’t be stranded and have to spend the night out in the winter cold. However, if you’re planning on taking the Tokyo Metro as part of your New Year’s Eve plans, you’ll probably need to find another way to get home, as the subway operator has announced that it will not be running any extra New Year’s trains this year.

From December 30 to January 3, Tokyo Metro trains will be operating under their standard weekend/holiday schedule, which generally has earlier last trains than on weekdays. So, for example, if you’re planning a New Year’s Eve visit to Tokyo’s most important temple, Sensoji, and to take the Tokyo Metro Ginza Line home from nearby Asakusa Station, your last train is going to be at 12:08, which really isn’t enough time to ring in the new year on the temple grounds and still make it onto the station platform in time to catch the last train.

This marks the second time in three years for Tokyo Metro to not run any extra trains for New Year’s Eve. In 2020 (i.e. December 31, 2019/January 1, 2020) the company was asked to refrain from doing so as part of stay-home countermeasures to prevent the spread of the coronavirus, and last year Tokyo Metro added extra trains only for limited sections of its Ginza and Marunouchi Lines.

For those who are planning a late-night temple visit or party on New Year’s Eve, it’s worth noting that Tokyo Metro isn’t the only public transportation provider in the city, and rail operator JR currently plans to run extra trains. If the Tokyo Metro is your preferred, or only, way to get back to your home or hotel, though, you might need to be prepared to shell out for a cab or pull an all-nighter.

Source: Norimono News via Livedoor News via Hachima Kiko
Top image: Wikipedia/Tokyo-Good
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