It’s that time of year again… You’ve set the toilet seat warmer on 10 to keep Jack Frost from nipping at your nether parts, the local Starbucks is blasting “Last Christmas” by George Michael for the 53,347th time, and every fast-food chain and convenience store is touting its selection of fried chicken and Christmas cakes. Yes, we’ve officially hit Christmastime in Tokyo season! So what’s out there to do?
Recently, European style pop-up Christmas markets have become a thing around Greater Tokyo. Here you can enjoy shopping for last-minute curios and handmade trinkets while sipping on mulled wine and snacking on ginger cake. It’s definitely a good way to greet the season!
Roppongi Hills – Get your fix for ginger snaps and mulled wine while hanging out in this spawling entertainment complex. Plus there are plenty of regular shops and restaurants awaiting your patronage should you run out of Christmas cheer. Runs from November 25 ~ December 25th, 11am~10pm. Web Map
Hibiya Park – If you’re searching for the most German inspired marketplace in the Metropolis, this is it! Hibiya Park will transform into a very Deutschland Christmas for 10 days meaning you can find grüw wine, sausages, beer and of course SWEETS! Plenty of curios, decorations and more to plunk your yen down on as well. December 15th~25th, 11am~10pm. Web Map
- Omotesando/Shibuya – At the other end of the spectrum is the Aoyama Farmer’s Market held on the UN University campus. Running for only 2 days, this is more of a traditional Japanese winter market, but if you want to get someone a taste of Japan like mikan pastries or yuzu preserves, you’d be wise to swing by. December 16th & 17th, 10am~4pm. 10 minute walk from either Omotesando or Shibuya station. Web Map
Yokohama Akarenga – Not to be outdone, the Red Brick Warehouse complex in Yokohama’s Minato Mirai district becomes the very epitome of what Christmas looks like in most people’s minds. From ornaments and lights to candies and hot wine (and sake), you’ll be walking in a winter wonderland around here. About a 10 minute walk from Minato-Mirai, Sakuragi-cho, or Bashamichi stations. Runs from November 25 ~ December 25th, 11am~10pm. Web Map
Unless you fancy the above mentioned fried chicken and Christmas cake that had become synonymous with “Xmas Japan Style”, you’ll want to check out our pics for places to enjoy more a more traditional menu for the season. Or perhaps you’re up to throwing together your own Christmas dinner together, you’ll need to check out a quick list of grocery stores to get those hard-to-find items from back home (I’m looking at you, cranberry sauce!)
- Check out our guide to eating a “proper” Christmas meal right here!
While you might not exactly be “walking in a winter wonderland” around Tokyo during the holiday season, there are still plenty of Holiday themed activities to get into:
- Ice Skating – Lace those blades up and get ready for some icy hi-jinks and sore muscles! There are plenty of places to skate in the Metropolis, but here are some temporary rinks set up just for the season that are easy to get to:
- White Sacas Akasaka – a temporary rink right in the heart of the business and government district of the city. Located in the TBS complex a stone’s throw away from Akasaka Station on the Chiyoda subway. Runs generally from December 12~February 14, Everyday 11am~9pm. ¥1000 adults, ¥500 kids. Web Map
- Tokyo Midtown Roppongi – Usually set up right in the plaza immediately behind the complex. Due to the same area’s use for the massive holiday illumination (also a must-see), this rink gets started a little later in the season; January 6~March 6, everyday 11am~10pm. ¥1500 adults, ¥1000 junior high school aged and below. Web Map
- Art Rink Akarenga Yokohama – That’s right, in the same place as the above Christmas market section. It’s pretty much the perfect setting for all things Xmas related if you’re up for the journey to this part of Japan’s Bay City. It’s called “Art Rink” thanks to the collaboration with Yokohama Hayato junior and senior high students’ art exhibition happening around the rink as well. December 2 ~ February 18, Opens 1pm weekdays, 11am weekends; closes 10pm everyday. ¥500 adults, ¥400 schoolchildren, ¥300 toddlers; skate rental extra. Web Map
- What’s a Christmas without Christmas lights, right? We’ve put together a guide of the best places in Tokyo so you can be dazzled without a hassle.
Roppongi Hills Christmas Walk – Jason L Gatewood