Despite its remote location, thousands make the pilgrimage to Yakuoin, the temple at the top of Mt Takao, for the annual New Year celebrations. Hatsumode, the first worship of the year, is an intricate and reverent part of Japanese New Year celebrations. Temples and shrines all over the country welcome droves of worshipers paying their New Year respects and praying for the year ahead. Many of those temples and shrines have festivals and religious events for the occasion. Some are more famous than others, such as "Geikosai" at Yakuo Temple Mt Takao.
Fire rituals are performed at intervals from midnight to 5 pm on New Year's day by the priests of the temple. The fires are offered for the protection of the thousands of worshipers who make the journey in the dark and cold to receive their first blessing of the year at the revered temple. Accordingly, the Mt Takao cable car runs throughout the night before the New Year, until 6.30 pm on January 1st to accommodate the visitors.
Another important and celebrated part of the Japanese New Year festivities is watching the first sunrise of the year. Yakuoin welcome the first sunrise with Geikosai. Geikosai is what we might call a light welcoming ceremony in English. The priests chant sutras and sound conch shells as the sun rises. Typically that is around 6.48 am on Mt Takao. On one side of the mountain, if the weather is fair, you can see Mt Fuji. This is another reason Mt Takao is a popular destination on New Year's Day - for that all important first glimpse of Mt Fuji in the New Year.