You only have to step into the nearest Family Mart to know that Christmas is right around the corner! But where can you go this season to get more of the Christmas spirit? Find out in today’s article.
Christmas is Coming!
In Tokyo, as soon as Halloween is over, Christmas trees and colorful lights begin popping up in office buildings and shopping centers all over town, department stores put out their special holiday-themed treats, and even your local grocery store might start playing Christmas carols. It’s hard to ignore the fact that Christmas is approaching! If you are looking for something festive to do this month, there are lots of places to go!
Christmas Illuminations and Christmas Markets
All manner of dazzling winter “illuminations” and light-up events are scheduled for December, and although some people are deterred by the great number of lovey-dovey couples that these events attract, don’t be deterred. There’s no reason you can’t go and have a blasting good time with your guy and girl friends, grandparents, or kids! Here are a few of the best-known areas in Tokyo:
If you’re shopping for high-end Christmas gifts, definitely pay a visit to Omotesando Hills. The Zelkova trees on either side of the classic avenue between Harajuku Station and Omotesando Station are decked out every year with warm-colored Christmas lights. This year, too, you can be sure to enjoy a luxe, grownup Christmas shopping experience in Omotesando.
Dates: December 1 (Wednesday) December 26 (Sunday), 2021
Hours: Sundown to 22:00
During the month of December, you’ll be able to catch Hibiya aglow with elegant illuminations, although start and end dates differ slightly depending on the area. This year’s theme includes the ideas of reduce, reuse, and recycle, so be on the lookout for earth-friendly Christmas trees. Also, keep your eyes peeled for hidden Christmas ornaments–it’s a treasure hunt!
Event: HIBIYA Magic Time Illumination 2021
Dates: November 18 (Thursday) 2021 to February 14 (Monday), 2022
In addition to its lights display, Hibiya has a European-style Christmas Market where you can enjoy food and shop for Christmas trinkets. Entry requires ticket purchase (1,000 yen, includes a Christmas mug). This Christmas market is famous for its Christmas pyramid imported from Germany.
Website: https://tokyochristmas.net/outline/ (Japanese)
Dates: December 10 (Friday) to December 25 (Saturday), 2021
Skytree Town, or Solamachi, will be strung with a total of 400,000 LED lights–so prepare to be dazzled! On the 4th floor of Skytree itself, you will find an 8-meter tall Christmas tree–a good photo op for you, your friends, and family.
Event: Skytree Town Magical Christmas 2021
Dates: November 1 (Monday) to December 25 (Saturday), 2021
While you’re at it, you can also stop by a Harry Potter pop-up shop or step out on the ice skating rink.
Skate rink: December 1, 2021 (Wednesday) to March 6 (Sunday), 2022
Hours: Monday to Thursday: 11:00~20:00
Friday to Sunday: 11:00~21:00
- MARUNOUCHI STATION
Over 340 trees along Marunouchi Nakadōri will be strung with gorgeous champagne-colored lights. The avenue leading up to Tokyo Station will be lit up as well, so you can take a Christmas photo in front of the iconic, recently remodeled station.
Event: Marunouchi Illumination 2021
Dates: November 11 (Thursday), 2021 to February 20 (Sunday), 2022
Hours: 15:00 to 23:00
15:00 to 24:00 (December 1 December 30)
Christmas Outside Tokyo
If you are an outdoors person and interested in a combination of the biggest Christmas lights display in the Kanto area, a hiking trip with a breathtaking view of Arashiyama (named after Kyoto’s Arashiyama), and a nice soak in the hot springs, Imprehike hiking group is offering a beginners’ hike in Kanagawa through Meetup.com. Although marked as beginner, this 7 km trail with an estimated 4 hour hike time requires all the proper hiking gear–from a 5-liter sports drink to trekking shoes to a headlight, so be sure to go prepared.
Dates: December 12 (Sunday), 2021
Fees: 4,000 yen, maximum 24 participants
The annual Yokohama Red Brick Warehouse Christmas Market will be held for the 12th time this year. If you’re looking to start your Christmas season steeped in a more traditional atmosphere, this is the place to go. This year’s theme is gifts, and as you stroll through this German-style Christmas Market, you can not only enjoy hot food and drinks together with your friends or family, but also shop for unique Christmas gifts. You can even treat yourself or your friend to a snow globe making workshop!
Dates: November 26 (Friday) to December 25 (Saturday), 2021
Hours: Open during regular business hours
Fess: Free admission or 300 yen admission, depending on day (check website for details)
A Traditional Christmas
Although Christmas in Japan mainly focuses on couples, cakes, and colorful lights, Christmas for many people is much more than the commercial glamour and glitz. It’s a celebration of the greatest event in history–God coming to earth as a human being–Jesus Christ, the Savior of the world! Now that COVID cases are dropping, churches are opening their doors again. If you are looking to spend this holiday season celebrating the original meaning of Christmas, check out your local church, and if you are looking for some live Christmas jazz music Tokyo EMC Church in Sumida-ku is hosting “Glorious EMC Gospel Jazz Live” will on Christmas Day (Saturday), featuring Lauren Horii (vocal) as a guest.
Glorious EMC Gospel Jazz Live, December 25 (Saturday), 2021
Doors Open: 13:30
Fee: 3,000 yen
Christmas At Home
On the other hand, most of us have gotten used to staying home. If you would rather be cozy and avoid the Christmas crowds, why not throw a small Christmas dinner for you and your friends at your house? National Azabu Supermarket in Hirō sells frozen turkeys, chickens, and duck, or you can find whole chickens at your local grocery store. Add to that some fine cheeses and crackers from KALDI coffee farm, or a strudel from your local bakery, and you will have a dinner worth Instagramming. Add to that your favorite Christmas music…
Tokyo Embassy Choir
This year, in-person concert was canceled, but you can enjoy a snippet of their virtual concert on YouTube.
…a small Christmas tree, and some Christmas decorations…
100 yen shops, shopping malls, and IKEA are good sources places to look
…and you might just have yourself a merry little Christmas, indeed!
Many of us can’t go home for Christmas and are feeling homesick, but instead of feeling sad, let’s look around and take this as an opportunity to bring a little Christmas cheer to those around us! Happy Christmas, everyone!