New year and Obon are the biggest festivals in the annual calendar. Families are expected to gather at their family home not matter how scattered they are. This is to honour their ancestors.
They will visit local shrines on the night of new year's eve or the next day. There are usually no wild countdown celebration for new year.
During Obon, the souls of the dead are said to return, so people visit and clean their family grave and light a path to their house. Although Obon traditionally is in July, most people in Japan take their annual summer Obon vacation in August, making it the busiest and more expensive holiday season.
Seijin no Hi celebrates people coming of age at 20. On the second Monday of January 20-year olds dress up and visit a shrine or attend a municipal ceremony to honour their reaching of adulthood. It is a good opportunity to see many young people in their finest traditional dress. Many young men wear kimono too but the majority tend to go for suits nowadays.
Setsubun. February 3rd or 4th marks the beginning of spring. Setsubun literally means "the spliting of the seasons". People throw beans at someone wearing a mask and representing a demon and chant 'Oni wa soto, fuku wa uchi' which means 'Out with the demons, in with good luck!' Often celebrities visit major shrines to throw out beans and other goodies to large crowds.
Hina Matsuri or Doll Festival is a display of dolls representing the emperor, empress and their court in formal dress. Young girls will have a display, from simple dolls and cards to elaborate setups costing hundreds of thousands of yen in their homes.