Japan's stock market had its worst year on record in 2008, with the Nikkei share index losing 42% of its value.
Share prices have plunged due to the global financial crisis and the soaring yen, which has made Japanese products more expensive.
A deepening recession in Japan has knocked confidence in many businesses, especially those which rely on exports.
Companies such as Sony, Toyota and Panasonic have seen demand for their goods fall both in Japan and abroad.
The last time the Tokyo stock exchange suffered a fall of similar magnitude was 1990, at the beginning of a prolonged economic slump, when the Nikkei fell 39% during the year.
However, the market ended 2008 with a modest rally - the Nikkei was up 1.3% on Tuesday. The market reopens on 5 January.
The index was established in 1949. Japan is the world's second-largest economy.