Don’t try going anywhere in Japan for New Years unless you booked your ticket home first. I’m with the Mrs’s family at the moment – took the Shinkansen on the 29th, about 7 hours to get from Chiba to Wakayama (total). We spent about 3 hours yesterday trying to find a way home, and the only way home was via plane – from a small airport. It also meant leaving a day earlier than planned, as all transportation was booked for the 3rd. I wanted to rent a car, but it would work out more expensive than the plane ticket if it was just me. I think if you were traveling with two or more, the car would be a cheaper option, but there is no telling how bad the traffic might be.