A flurry of late index futures-related buying lifted Tokyo's Nikkei index to a new record close Monday, while share prices in the broader market finished lower.
Prices surged on London's Stock Exchange on Monday as leading British issues enjoyed a belated reaction to last week's gains on Wall Street.
All financial markets were closed in the United States in observance of the Presidents' Day holiday.
The Nikkei index rose 3.69 points to a record closing high of 32,177.08 after rising 89.81 points to the previous record close of 32,173.39 on Friday.
But in the broader market, declines led advances, as 515 issues ended lower, 359 higher and 213 were unchanged. Turnover was a light 1.2 billion shares, compared to 1.8 billion on Friday.
"The market is very quiet. It's a blue Monday, and a wait-and-see attitude was already expected last week," said Shigeru Akiba, head trader at UBS Phillips & Drew International.
The London market managed to extend its gains during the afternoon.
The Financial Times-Stock Exchange 100-stock index closed 22.9 points, or 1.1%, higher at 2,065.8
Volume was moderate, with 465.8 million shares changing hands, up marginally from 464.5 million shares on Friday.
Dealers noted some selective buying among electronics, banking and brewing stocks.
In Europe, the dollar rose Monday against all major currencies. Gold prices also moved higher.
Dealers said the dollar received a slight boost from the U.S. government's announcement Friday that the nation's trade deficit narrowed to $11.9 billion in December from a revised November figure of $12.2 billion.
But they said trading was uninspired, with volume reduced to a trickle as U.S. financial and stock exchanges closed for the holiday.
In London, the British pound fell to $1.7665 from $1.7780 late Friday.
Other late dollar rates in Europe, compared to late Friday's rates, included: 1.8435 West German marks, up from 1.8425; 1.5683 Swiss francs, up from 1.5643; 6.2825 French francs, up from 6.2725; 2.0820 Dutch guilders, up from 2.0790; 1,350.50 Italian lire, up from 1,348.50, and 1.1897 Canadian dollars, up from 1.1859.
In Tokyo, the dollar fell 0.61 Japanese yen to a closing 125.72 yen. Later, in London, it rose to 126.45 yen.
Gold bullion rose in London to a bid price of $382.25 an ounce, up from $380.75 late Friday.
In Zurich, Switzerland, the metal rose to $382.20 bid from $380.
Earlier, in Hong Kong, gold fell $5.02 to close at $380.18.
Silver bullion was quoted in London at $5.93 an ounce, unchanged from Friday.
All U.S. stock and commodity markets were closed Monday in observance of Presidents' Day