Seasons of Jolly – The Top 5 (and some more) of Tokyo’s most mesmerizing and enchanting Christmas Illuminations
Christmas is a holiday most people look forward to and even though the Japanese community isn’t celebrating this Christian holiday the way other countries do, their illumination events during the Christmas season shouldn’t be missed and is an experience of a lifetime. When the days are getting shorter and a lot colder, the Tokyo illuminations bring the people outside and enjoy the colourful lights and the warmth of the magical and romantic LED lights against the black night sky. Whether you go alone, with a friend, family member or loved one, the Tokyo Christmas Illuminations should not be missed!
This list will give you an overview of the best Winter Illuminations to make your search for your night stroll a lot easier!
Place 05: Midtown Christmas
This display fits right in the top 5 of the Christmas illumination list, since it is the most popular display of Christmas illumination in Tokyo. Every year, thousands and thousands of couples visit the site hand in hand with a bottle of Champagne in the other to express their love for one another. And this is with a reason, because this event is just beautiful. However, you might want to avoid the days around Christmas, since the huge crowd might ruin your illumination experience. But if you head there early in the illumination, beginning of December/ in November, you should be able to enjoy this illumination to the fullest.
The highlight of the event is the space-inspired Starlight Garden, which returns every single year with a sea of lights of 2000 m2
behind the Tokyo Midtown Complex. There is also a small show every 10 minutes or so, so you might want to wait for this… since it is truly magical.
When: Mid nov - Christmas (17:00-23:00)
How to get there: Few minutes walk from Roppongi Station on the Oedo Subway Line
Where: Around Tokyo Midtown Complex
Odaiba has made its way on this list, because not only is Odaiba beautiful during Christmas; it has an illumination all year round and is therefore even more beautiful during the Christmas season itself. The stunning rainbow bridge is a magnificent view all year round when lit up in all the colors of, how else could it be, The Rainbow, but during Christmas season the Odaiba island is cranking it up a notch.
This year round Odaiba Illumination is called the ‘Yakei’ and has become a Tokyo phemomenon. The center of the Odaiba Illuminations is the massive 200m Odaiba Memorial (Christmas) Tree and a big heart-shaped sculpture in front of the tree where you can capture the Odaiba bridge, the Memorial tree and the Tokyo skyline in 1 picture.
However, most impressive is the illusion dome where a 360 degrees projector which changes detects the human movements and changes its display accordingly.
So, for all the Christmas fanatics visiting Tokyo just outside illumination season, or for those of you who just missed them, the Odaiba Illumination will bring you Christmas season all year round.
When: All year round (17:00-24:00)
How to get there: 1 minute walk from Yurikamome Line Odaiba-Kaihinkoe Staiton
Where: Odaiba Seaside Deck 3F Tokyo Beach
Place 03: Shinjuku
Every year, the Shinjuku station area lights up when the days become shorter. Most impressive are the Southern Terrace and the Odakyu Group area on the West side and display a beautiful field of lights. The best time to visit is of course right before the Christmas time when all the Japanese citizens get into Christmas mood. The terrace is decorated with shooting starts and many MANY lights. Another great illumination is the walkway connecting Shinjuku south station and the South terrace itself. Before actually reaching the South Terrace the lit overhead walkway makes you feel like walking a stairway to heaven. Besides these illuminations there is also a ‘night sky’ ceiling which is lit up in the winter month at the Shinjuku MyLord’s Mosaic Street.
The combinations of all the beautiful scenery and the perfect location, being in the heart of Shinjuku makes this a top 3 worthy illumination spot!
When: Mid nov – till Mid February (17:00-24:00)
How to get there: South exit JR Shinjuku station
Where: South of Shinjuku Station
The two illuminations which are placed first and second have been switched as my favourite illuminations multiple times. It has been very hard to make an actual decision for this article, however the popularity overall has made me come up with this order.
I will tell you exactly why the Tokyo Dome City is a neck to neck with the number one and a worthy runner up.
Tokyo Dome City in winter is the illuminations which has probably made the biggest impression on me of all the Tokyo illuminations. The different patterns, the layout of the illuminations and the variety of colors made the Tokyo Dome a perfect night stroll.
The Tokyo Dome is a theme park, onsen, museum and station during the day, but in the winter when the lights turn on it becomes a magical wonderland with over 2 million LED lights draped over structures and sculptured into beautiful pieces.
I remember several installations of lights including a mandela-like gazebo structure, a colourful tunnel of lights, a rainbow tunnel, gardens with lit up flowers and more… The different installations make you gaze in awe with every step you take. Because of this wonderful night out with all the different LED sculptures the Tokyo Dome City is possibly the best to visit with little children and if you like to stroll around just looking at the landscape.
When: Mid nov – till Mid February (16:00-24:00)
How to get there: few min from Suidobashi Station on the JR Chuo line
Where: Tokyo Dome City
At the Shiodome area between all the high risen offices and hotels, you will find the popular Caretta shopping center, famous for its arts, dining experience and ofcourse marvellous shopping.
However, at the end of the year, this place attracts even more visitors because of its enchanting Christmas illuminations. It is probably the biggest illumination event of Tokyo city with over 250.000 that light up the place as a magical winter wonderland and shouldn’t be missed by those looking for the Christmas spirit.
The shopping center also provides a light show of all the LED lights every 20 minutes from 17:00 until 23:00 from Mid-november up until mid-february! This makes you able to experience Christmas for over 3 months.
When: Mid-nov till mid-february (17:00-23:00)
How to get there: 4 min walk from Shimbashi station JR Yamanote line
Address: Caretta Shiodome B2F Caretta Plaza
Honorable Mention: Rikugien Gardens Illuminations
Because technically this illumination is not a Christmas illumination, but can be seen during November-Early December and worth mentioning because of its beauty we couldn’t leave it out of this list.
The Rikugien Gardens are one of the most known feudal lord gardens originating from the Edo Period and is also known as one of the most beautiful gardens of Tokyo. But already since 1953 its autumn glow has been recognized as a scenic beauty spot. The golden and fire glow of the golden and red leaves make this night walk a very pleasant one.
When: Mid-nov till early december (17:00-21:00)
How to get there: 5 min walk from Komagome Station on the Yamanote Line
Address: Rikugien Gardens – 6 Chome Honkomagome
Other illuminations which didn’t make the top 5, but are worth mentioning
Roppongi Hills - Mid Nov – End December – 17:00-23:00
The high-end and artsy area of Tokyo lights up during December.
Nakameguro Jewel Dome – Mid December – Christmas (16:00-21:00)
For a pleasant stroll around a LED light covered lane alongside the river.
Omotesando – December 1st – Christmas (sunset-21:00)
The fancy shops in Omotesando do their very best to give you a never forget Christmas experience. Conviently located, this illumination event is a nice evening walk.