5 Illuminations and Countdown Events to See in Tokyo this December
In December, there are many fun events in Tokyo that will blow away the winter blues, such as illuminations and New Year's countdowns! What are you interested in - a romantic illumination event or a uniquely Japanese countdown at a hot spring? Read on to decide how best to enjoy your time in December in Tokyo!
- 1. Enjoy the Christmas Market and Illuminations (Roppongi)
- 2. Shopping and Illuminations! VenusFort Illumination 2019-2020 (Odaiba)
- 3. The Magical Shibuya Blue Cave (Shibuya)
- 4. Relax in a Hot Spring! Ooedo Onsen-Monogatari Countdown (Daiba)
- 5. Experience a Countdown in the Crowded Shibuya
1. Enjoy the Christmas Market and Illuminations (Roppongi)
The illuminations in Roppongi are a major highlight of Tokyo every winter. There are many large scale illumination spots within walking distance of each other, so you can enjoy them on a nighttime walk.
Among the many spots, Roppongi Hills and Tokyo Midtown are particularly highly recommended.
The trees that line Keyakizaka, an approximately 400m street leading to Roppongi Hills, are adorned with SNOW & BLUE lights that use roughly 700,000 blue and white LED lights. At Roppongi Hills, there is also a Christmas market where you can purchase original Christmas goods from Germany while enjoying German food. It's loads of fun looking for cute Christmas items while sipping a warm cup of mulled wine!
At Tokyo Midtown, the centerpiece is the illuminations that cover the huge 2,000sq.m. lawn. The magnificent production under the theme of "outer space" depicting how stars are born and mature is stunning.
Roppongi Hills Christmas 2019
Event Schedule: Early November - December 25, 2019
*Christmas Market opens from November 30 to December 25, 2019
Tokyo Midtown Christmas 2019
Event Schedule: November 15 - December 25, 2019
2. Shopping and Illuminations! VenusFort Illumination 2019-2020 (Odaiba)
There are also Christmas illuminations at VenusFort, a very popular shopping destination among foreign tourists in Japan. The illuminations that mark the 20th anniversary of VenusFort feature lights with a warm hue and mirror balls that represent snow. A powerful and magical three-minute original sound show is presented every 20 minutes in the Fountain Plaza. There is also a large lit-up structure with the ARIGATO ("thank you" in Japanese) on the main second-floor entrance that is great to photograph. Why not take a picture and send it to someone you want to say "thank you" to?
Although VenusFort is by the sea, the Fountain Plaza is indoors, so it is highly recommended for those who want to enjoy illuminations without worrying about the cold.
Event Schedule: November 1, 2019 - Mid-March 2020
*The image shows the Fountain Plaza without the illuminations
3. The Magical Shibuya Blue Cave (Shibuya)
Shibuya is known for the scramble crossing and has the image of a busy place that is packed with people. At Christmastime, even Shibuya takes on a magical glow.
An approximately 800m avenue stretching from the zelkova trees in Yoyogi Park to Shibuya Koen Dori is lit up with about 600,000 blue LED lights. The lights are designed to appear as if there are waves moving along the street. The blue lights are mirrored on the reflective sheet on the ground so you can experience the feeling of walking in a cave engulfed in lights.
In Yoyogi Park: November 29 - December 31, 2019
Shibuya Koen Dori: November 29, 2019 - January 14, 2020
4. Relax in a Hot Spring! Ooedo Onsen-Monogatari Countdown (Daiba)
Ooedo Onsen-Monogatari is popular for the lovely interior that is decorated to evoke the Edo Period (1603 - 1868). It is an onsen (hot spring) facility that is like a theme park where you can walk around wearing free rental yukata (light cotton kimono). In addition to the onsen, there is a retro arcade and restaurant so you can relax and enjoy yourself until it's time for the countdown. There are dances after the countdown, so this is the perfect place to welcome in the New Year in a festive mood.
There is also an "Alice in Wonderland" illumination event held in the foot bath area from November 11, 2019 to February 29, 2020, so be sure to check this out too.
*Schedule for the 2019 countdown event has not yet been announced (in 2018, it started at 8:30 pm on December 31)
5. Experience a Countdown in the Crowded Shibuya
A New Year's countdown is held at the scramble crossing in Shibuya, the iconic area of the great Tokyo metropolis. In 2018, roads around Shibuya Station were closed to traffic from 10:30 pm on December 31 to 1:00 am on January 1, and they became completely filled with people. The crowds went wild when the countdown was shown on the five screens in front of Shibuya Station facing the scramble crossing at 11:55pm. The New Year was welcomed in with a bang amidst the sound of firecrackers.
It is extremely crowded so be careful of pickpockets. Enjoy yourself responsibly and be sure to take any trash away with you.
*The 2019 schedule has not yet been announced.
Each event comes with a completely different atmosphere, so choose which one you'll go to based on your preferences and the people you are going with. Many of the events held during Christmas and the New Year are at night, so be sure to dress warm!
*Please note that the information in this article is from the time of writing or publication and may differ from the latest information.
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