Tokyo stocks ended lower on Wednesday, the last trading day of 2020, but over the year the benchmark Nikkei index rose 16 percent to its highest annual close since 1989.
The bellwether Nikkei 225 index closed down 0.45 percent, or 123.98 points, to 27,444.17, while the broader Topix index slipped 0.80 percent, or 14.50 points, to 1,804.68.
Tokyo financial markets will be closed until Monday.
"Investors locked in profits following yesterday's sizeable gain," said Shinichi Yamamoto, a broker at Okasan Securities in Tokyo.
"But sentiment remains strong because the year-end level is quite encouraging," Yamamoto told AFP.
In mid-March, the Nikkei index plunged some 30 percent from the end of 2019 on growing fears that the world was heading for a virus-fuelled economic catastrophe.
The coronavirus pandemic forced Japan to postpone the 2020 Olympics in late March and issue a state of emergency in April, but the index has since made a V-shaped recovery following a series of stimulus efforts.
The Bank of Japan maintained its asset-buying program, including purchases of stocks, which has reportedly made the central bank the biggest shareholder in Japan's listed companies.
Investors also shrugged off Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's sudden resignation -- with Yoshihide Suga, who replaced Abe in September, pledging to take over his predecessor's stimulus measures.
Some brokers warn the market is overheating, but Yamamoto said "the market is likely to remain bullish next year as companies are showing further recovery".
"A potential concern is if an exit scenario from the current stimulus measures is discussed, it may pour cold water on the market," Yamamoto added.
Among major shares in Tokyo, Sony lost 1.01 percent from Tuesday to 10,285 yen, Toyota fell 0.71 percent to 7,957 yen and Nintendo edged down 0.04 percent to 65,830 yen.
But Uniqlo casual wear operator Fast Retailing jumped 1.82 percent to 92,470 yen and market heavyweight SoftBank Group inched up 0.03 percent to 8,058 yen.
Japan Airlines rallied 2.94 percent to 1,995 yen with rival ANA Holdings up 1.20 percent at 2,277 yen.