New Year's is an exciting time in Japan. It is the biggest holiday for most Japanese. There is certainly a lot more customs than I ever saw.
Otoshidama, or New Year's money is the most exciting for kids. As they visit various relatives they are handed envelopes of money.
Many kids end up with 100's of dollars (well yen, anyway).
Pretty cool, eh? Except, when you are an adult it is your turn to give money.
We usually only visit one relative that we know fairly well.
Omikuji, is the fortune for the new year. Many Japanese (even Christians, unfortunately) will visit a Shinto shrine and pay to receive their fortune for the New Year. There are different categories: very good, good, so-so, bad, and very bad. The funny thing is, if you don't like the fortune you get, you can go ahead and pick another one (at a cost, of course).
There are a lot more customs and traditions related to food and games that are played. It is an interesting holiday to experience