As revelers in Japan and around the world celebrate the New Year, here is a collection of photos captured by Kyodo News photographers.
Crowds rung in the New Year at the famous crossing outside JR Shibuya Station in downtown Tokyo. Roads in the area were closed to traffic and several hundred members of a riot police unit as well as special police officers dubbed "DJ police," who aim to marshal crowds with a spirit of goodwill, were mobilized to maintain order.
Kieu Van Thang, a 25-year-old Vietnamese tourist, said he was thrilled to be able to celebrate the New Year with such a huge crowd.
Meanwhile, Kurodo Ohashi, a 20-year-old university student who joined the countdown with friends from Germany, said, "I had a busy (2018) working part-time and studying. I hope to continue working hard in the coming year so as to realize my dream of studying abroad."
Japan Airlines Co. flew a chartered flight from Tokyo's Haneda airport to provide passengers with an aerial view of the year's first sunrise and Mt. Fuji.
Among the passengers, Yukari Miyagawa, a 56-year-old from Echizen, Fukui Prefecture, said, "It feels so refreshing, as if my heart has also ascended above the clouds. What a wonderful start to a great year."
Meanwhile, 37 lucky winners of a lottery viewed the first sunrise in 2019 from an observation deck on Tokyo Tower, about 250 meters from the ground.
"We are very lucky to be able to enjoy the year's first sunrise -- for the last time in the Heisei Era -- at such as special location," said 46-year-old Keiichi Yanagisawa who took part with his wife.
Japan will adopt a new "gengo" era name in May when Crown Prince Naruhito ascends the throne to succeed his father, Emperor Akihito.
Elsewhere across Japan, people watched the sunrise and visited shrines and temples to pray for a good year, especially after the nation was hit by a series of disasters in 2018.
In the Mabi district of Kurashiki, Okayama Prefecture, one of the worst hit areas by torrential rains and flooding last July, residents gathered on top of Hoguyama, a hill popular among locals, to watch the sunrise.
"I pray that this year will be one without any disasters," said 49-year-old Misako Ono, who is living in temporary housing as a result of the flooding and landslides.
(New Year's prayers at a shrine in quake-hit Atsuma, Hokkaido)
Similarly, survivors of the March 2011 earthquake and tsunami, which destroyed vast areas along the northeastern Japan coast, prayed for blessings as they continue to try to rebuild their lives and communities.
Watching the sun rise above the sea in Natori, Miyagi Prefecture, 59-year-old Hiroko Tsukiura from Sendai said, "Until now, I hadn't been able to come to the seaside as it would remind me of the quake, but I've slowly become more comfortable about it. I prayed that everyone in our family will be able to live healthily and happily."
A Kyodo photographer also traveled to Bangladesh and captured the year's first sunrise at a camp for Rohingya refugees.
Exiting a mosque, made of bamboo and plastic sheets, after pre-dawn prayers, refugees took a moment to watch the sun rise above the numerous tents at the camp.
Mohammad Tarek, 18, had fled his home in Myanmar with his parents and six siblings after clashes between the military and militants began in August 2017. He said he wants to study at school and that his dream is to work in medical services to contribute to his hometown.
Now there is hope to live, he said.