Ushiku Daibutsu New Year Events

3 day New Year celebration at Ushiku Daibutsu Ibaraki

Late Dec
Early Jan
Venue: Ushiku Daibutsu When: Late Dec - Early Jan 2021
Notice: The dates for this event are not yet confirmed. This page will be updated once the official date(s) are announced by the event organizers. Please check the official event site for the latest info.

Hatsumode is the practice of the first religious worship of the year. It is typically associated with a first visit to a shrine, but some people prefer to worship at a temple. The temple at the Ushiku big Buddha, known as a Daibutsu, is a popular New Year's pilgrimage for many. The temple offer many attractions for those who make the journey, from near and far, to pay homage at the big Buddha over New Years.

New Years Fireworks

The New Year's at Ushiku Daibutsu is for three days from the evening of December 31st until the afternoon of January 3rd. It starts with a count down event to the New Year and fireworks are launched at the stroke of midnight. Fireworks are a common way to ring in the New Year in many countries, but despite fireworks being very popular in Japan, they are not common at New Year at all. Ushiku Daibutsu is one of only a few places that ring in the New Year with a fireworks display on the stroke of midnight. The fireworks illuminate the stunning 120 meter tall Buddha - one of the three largest Buddha statues in the whole world.

Free entry

From January 1st to 3rd you can enter the statue for free. Inside there is a small lotus shaped museum, a gallery of golden Buddha statues and an observation deck at 85 meters. Entry is normally 500 yen for adults and 300 yen for children just to enter the gardens. Combined with entry to the giant Buddha too it costs 800 yen for adults and 500 yen for children. This is a rare opportunity to enter both for free.

Children's events

There is a small petting zoo at the back of the giant Buddha. They put on stage performances with animals a couple of times a day during the New Year period.

Getting there

By car

The Big Buddha is located close to the Ken-o expressway Ami Higashi Interchange, the same interchange for the Ami Premium Outlets. Making it very accessible from other parts of Ibaraki and from Chiba and Saitama too. It took us less than half an hour from Narita International airport to reach this location on New Year's day and about an hour from there to home in Saitama using the Ken-o expressway. From Tokyo you can use the Joban expressway to the Tsukuba junction and change over to the Ken-o from there.

By public transport

The nearest train stations are Ushiku and Hitachino-Ushiku, both on the Joban Line. The Buddha is quite far from both though so you would have take a taxi or a bus from the station to the Big Buddha.

More info

Find out more about Ushiku Daibutsu.

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Lynda Hogan

Lynda Hogan @lynda.hogan

Lynda has been in Japan for 20 years and blogging about Saitama on her personal blog insaitama.com for 14 of them.  Despite its central location, just North of Tokyo, Saitama is still quite unknown to the international tourist, but frequented by domestic travelers. It is a great place to experience some off-the-international-tourist-trail locations and meet with locals and national tourists. I hope to introduce a taste of what there is to do and see in my articles on Japan Travel and help you with your Saitama travel planning.  Be sure to stop by my website where you will find 600 things to do in Saitama and 400 active events! 

Join the discussion

Sleiman Azizi 11 months ago
Just huge, huge, huge. If it starts walking, we're in trouble.
Sleiman Azizi 11 months ago
I remember seeing it for the first time and my mind just went, "woah..."
Sherilyn Siy 11 months ago
Huge savings to visit this place. A great time to visit for sure.
Lynda Hogan Author 11 months ago
Absolutely. And we didn't know in advance about the free entry, so it was a nice surprise!
Elena Lisina 11 months ago
That place is amazing and the figure of Daibutsu is SO impressive!
Lynda Hogan Author 11 months ago
It really is and the world's largest incense burner there is pretty impressive too.
Kim B 11 months ago
That's awesome that it's free entry - and what a cool way to ring in the new year! :)
Lynda Hogan Author 11 months ago
I used to live in Ibaraki, but I didn't know about the New Year's eve fireworks until recent years - well after i'd moved away! Typical that!