For those of you who have not experienced a Japanese style New Year, you need to be prepared for the closing down of practically everything for at least 2 days. Most stores close down early on New Year's Eve and don't reopen until the 2nd or later. This is much shorter than "in the good old days" when stores were closed down until the 3rd or 4th, but one still needs to be sure to stock up on the basics, such as bread and milk. Of perhaps greater significance in this "cash society" is that many banks will be closed from December 31st to January 3rd. Cash machines (ATMs) may not be operational on Jan. 1, 2 and 3, and so you need to have enough cash on hand for your expected expenses (plus some for the spur-of-the-moment purchases at the various New Year's sales you'll run across).