December 31 is not a national holiday. Around midnight on December 31, New Year's Eve, all temples ring their large bronze bells 108 times, a tradition called "joya-no-kane".

Why 108 times? This is because in Buddhism, it is said that humans have 108 earthly desires that are the source of all sufferings, and each toll of the bell helps people rid themselves of one of these desires. By ringing out the old year and ringing in the new, each earthly desire will be taken away and therefore we can start the New Year with a pure mind. The final toll will ring out just after midnight.