Christmas Day in Japan is just another working day for the most part. The most interesting facet of the Christmas and holiday season in Japan is that all traces of it will be gone by morning on December 26th. Without fail, every bell, light, and garlands; every decoration will come down and the music stops. This disappearing act does not, however, hold true for one of Japan’s most interesting holiday traditions; the “illumination.”
Illuminations are roughly equivalent to the western tradition of putting up Christmas lights. Rather than putting lights up on their own houses, cities or businesses will set them up and the people come to them. This is a very popular event for couples, and many illumination displays are setup and run from November straight until Valentine’s Day.
Here are some of Tokyo’s most popular places to see illumination!
Omotesando Hills Christmas 2018
The shopping center known for its high-end stores and stunning architecture will hold their Christmas-themed “Aurora emerging in the city“ illumination from November 17 until December 25. There will be “light curtain” consisting of about 6,000 icicles appears. As if it is floating in the winter sky, gently wrap the whole space while drawing shapes such as hearts and diamonds. Every 20 minutes for about 3 minutes, icicles and the tree are illuminated by the light in accordance with the music.
Harajuku – Omohara White Christmas
Tokyu Plaza Omotesando Harajuku (or Omohara for short) holds their “Omohara Forest” themed illumination on the sixth floor terrace, featuring forest-inspired illumination designs erupting from over 1,600 LEDs. This is more of a winter illumination, being on display from November 15 until February 28.
Shinjuku – Terrace City Illumination
From November 14 to February 14 at the Terrace City Shopping Center you will find a variety of different illumination displays to get you into the holiday spirit with trees and surroundings festively decorated with lights. At some points you will even find modern art-like objects with touch sensors that activate special audio/video shows.
Yurakucho/Ginza – Mikimoto & Marronnier Gate Christmas Trees
The Ginza likes Christmas; no doubt about it. A stroll down Chuo Street will reward the walker with dozens of illumination displays of various sizes which turn this already colorful section of Ginza into a festive and dazzling corner of the world. With the return of the Mikimoto Christmas Tree you can now see 2 impressively-decorated traditional Christmas Trees by visiting the Maronnier Gate shopping center. Christmas Illumination in the area runs from November 8 to December 25, Winter Illumination runs from December 26 to February 18.
Yurakucho – Mullion Illuminaton
The Yurakucho Center Building plays host to a spectacular light display every year, and being just a stone’s throw south of Yurakucho station, makes for an easy stroll with a hot beverage to enjoy a bit of quiet before or after walking about the Ginza during the winter. The Winter Illumination runs from November 8 until Valentines day, February 14, 2018.
Shiodome – Caretta Illumination
This event is one of the most highly recommended of the holiday season! Running from November 15 to February 14, 2017 the Carretta Shiodome shopping center is once again hosting its annual Caretta Illumination. This year they are offering a “Disney MovieNEX Princess Illumination “. There is also a ‘romantic’ light show every 15 minutes. You should also plan to visit the illuminations at nearby Shiodome City Center and Nihon TV, which are not as big, but are very close!
Roppongi – Roppongi Hills Artelligent Christmas
Roppongi Hills’ Christmas illuminations are always impressive. This year the centerpiece Keyakizaka “LIVE veil” Illumination, which consists of around 700,000 LEDs, instagram with Tokyo Tower in the stylish “snow and blue” lights. Other highlights will be the Christmas Tree on 66 Plaza, and the illuminations in the Mori Garden. The Roppongi Hills Christmas Market, a German Style Christmas celebration, will also be worth a look.
Tokyo Midtown Illumination
Tokyo Midtown’s ‘Starlight Garden’ is among the most impressive illuminations on display in Tokyo, lighting up the spacious Midtown Garden area with 500,000 blue LEDs from November 13 until December 25. This year’s feature attraction of the ‘Soap Bubble Illumination’ is about 450,000 soap bubbles and mist will float through the night’s sky, creating wonderful space that changes its appearance each time you see it! In addition, the Galleria shopping area will host a small ‘Marché de Noël’, and an ‘illumination concierge’ service will be on offer to provide visitors with guidance regarding the various attractions.
※Soap Bubble Illumination
[Period] Nov 13 (Tue) – Dec 16 (Sun) limitted.
Once every 12 minutes performance from the top of every hour.
Tokyo Dome City Illuminations
Not to be outdone, Tokyo Dome City will illuminate us on the subject of winter from November 7 until February 17, with its ‘Edo elegance ~ Japanese beauty’. The area surrounding Tokyo Dome, including the amusement park, are festively and brightly lit up with both holiday and winter themed displays.
Ebisu – Yebisu Garden Place
From November 3 until January 14 the Yebisu Garden Place will again be emblazoned with thousands of lights and fixtures in an illumination display titled “Baccarat Eternal Light” that features a massive crystal chandelier 5 meters tall and 3 meters wide, adorned with a total of 250 lights (that is more than it sounds like!). It’s the largest chandelier in the crystal maker’s history. In addition to this there are many Christmas trees, snowmen, and usual items so commonly seen in a holiday theme.
Tokyo Skytree Dream Christmas
If you’re looking for a particularly big Christmas tree, then the Tokyo Skytree should fill your needs, even if there’s not a single pine needle in sight. The whole area goes Christmas mad with the pathways to Skytree and Oshiage stations gleaming with hundreds of thousands of lights until December 25. Perhaps the biggest draw will be the projection mapping displays from December 14 to 25, every half hour between 17:30 to 20:00 coloring the tower mystical beautiful.
Kitte Building – White Kitte
White winter wonderland? Check. Immense tree? Check. Carolers ‘fa-la-la-la-la-ing’? Check. From November 21 until December 25 you can find a glittering 14.5m white tree in Marunouchi’s Kitte Building (It is the biggest indoor Christmas tree in Japan). Every thirty minutes it lights up, plays music and is serenaded by carol singers and other musical events .
Where do you go when you want to see the entire landscape bathed in lights as far as you can squint? Quick, to the suburbs! Located about 30 minutes by express train from Shinjuku station is Yomiuri-Land, Metro Tokyo’s largest theme park spread across the rolling Tama Hills just south of the Tama River. This year from October 11 until February 17, 2018 the park will be lit up with over 5.5 million lights for “Jewellumination”. Every attraction, building and ride will have some form of LED array glistening in holiday splendor as you stroll through the park. Entrance fee is 1400 JPY, Night pass(Entrance and Attraction free to ride ) is 2400 JPY for adults ; lower for children based on age.
Around an hour outside of Tokyo and claiming to have the biggest collection of Christmas lights in the Kanto region – over 6 million LED lights – the illuminations at the Sagamiko Pleasure Forest is well worth checking out, and runs until April 7. Entrance fees are 1000 JPY for adults and 700 JPY for children, Night pass(Entrance and Attraction free to ride ) is 2500 JPY and 2000 JPY for children. In addition, the place has been recognized as Kanto region’s three most beautiful illuminations since this October!