Another Japanese New Year's tradition is to hang "wishes" on a tree at a shrine. You can purchase a small wooden plaque (called ema) and write your wish on it. You then hang it on a tree.
Pictured above are some of the wishes at Naminoe Shrine. (Click on the picture for a better view. Blogger is still washing out the colors in the smaller versions of the photos when I upload them. And since I'm on the road, I don't have my automated process of generating my own thumbnail images. Sorry.)