Tokyo shares closed 0.86 percent lower Tuesday, owing to a strengthening yen and profit-taking, and following losses on Wall Street and in Europe.
The benchmark Nikkei 225 index shed 90.95 points to 10,508.06, while the broader Topix index of all first-section shares was off 1.04 percent, or 9.18 points, at 871.88.
The Nikkei jumped 2.82 percent Friday, the first trading day of 2013, after ending last year at its highest level since the 2011 quake-tsunami disasters.
"Players who had bought through Christmas have taken some more cash off the table pro-actively as the yen's slide has slowed and US earnings reporting season is about to start," an equity trading director at a foreign brokerage told Dow Jones Newswires.
SMBC Nikko Securities' general manager of equities, Hiroichi Nishi, said: "The market remains overheated after running up so much over the past several weeks, making it vulnerable to more selling."
But the yen's relative weakness may prevent the market from plunging, Nishi told Dow Jones Newswires.
"Currency levels remain somewhat supportive... so this should hold any sharp sell-offs in check."
A weaker yen helps Japan's many exporters by making their products cheaper abroad.
The dollar slipped to 87.35 yen in Tokyo trade from 87.89 yen in New York late Monday, while the euro bought 114.60 yen, from 115.09 yen.
The European single currency bought $1.3118 against $1.3115 ahead of a closely watched European Central Bank meeting this week.
On Wall Street the Dow Jones Industrial Average eased 0.38 percent on profit-taking ahead of the start of the corporate earnings season, while Europe's main stock markets also fell.
Tokyo Electron eased 2.25 percent to 3,905 yen, with construction machinery maker Komatsu off 3.22 percent at 2,247 yen.
Troubled electronics maker Sharp rose 3.90 percent to 293 yen.