As the weather gets colder, the city glows with spectacular Christmas lights and illuminations. Typically starting in November, some displays stay up until as late as February. Here’s our round-up of the best and twinkliest winter illuminations in Tokyo this year — including a few new locations.
1. Tokyo Mega Illumination
Tokyo Mega Illumination at Oi Racecourse is one of the largest light-ups in Tokyo. Unlike the other places on this list, it is a destination in itself. As such, the organizers have pulled out all the stops. In total, there are more than 15 different illumination installations spread over an enormous area — plus, horses! The ample breathing space is welcome as some of the other places on this list can get crowded. Get your tickets in advance.
2. Roppongi Hills Christmas Illumination
Going all out with the Christmas lights, Roppongi Hills has a few different spots to visit. Mori Garden will be lit up and the popular Christmas Market will return. There will be various types of Christmas displays, including a bouquet-inspired tree at Roku-Roku Plaza. But the big guns are saved for Keyakizaka Avenue — the 400-meter-long street that runs down a gentle slope on the Azabu side of the Hills. Here there will be about 800,000 LEDs glowing in the theme of “Snow Blue” (i.e. white and blue).
3. Omotesandō Illuminations
The mature zelkova trees, wide sidewalks, and fancy shops make Omotesandō one of the top Tokyo illumination spots each winter. There aren’t really any gimmicks — you just go there and walk up and down the street strewn with 900,000 lights. Don’t forget to drop into Omotesandō Hills while you are in the area. This year, they’ll unveil the world’s largest 3D-printed Christmas tree made up of (and surrounded by) around 500 shining snowflakes.
4. Marunouchi Illumination
Marunouchi Illumination is one of the classier ones. With cobblestone streets, 220 roadside trees, public sculptures, and the reproduced facades of big banks, this is probably the closest you’ll get to a ye olde European-style Christmas light-up in Tokyo. Continue the journey by visiting the other illuminations in the area: White KITTE, plus the Hibiya Magic Time Illumination, and also inside the surrounding buildings for a touch of a Disney-inspired Christmas.
5. Tokyo Dome City Winter Illumination
Something about the size and all the open space around Tokyo Dome makes it seem really, really cold in winter, but the two million twinkly LED lights make up for it. The theme for 2023 is “LOL SHOW”, and there will be various comedy performances as well as some other sweet surprises.
6. Ebisu Garden Place Illumination
The Baccarat Eternal Lights champagne-gold illumination at Ebisu Garden Place definitely goes heavy on the amps. The area in front of the main tower is typically flooded with fairy lights, illuminated bells, and a giant chandelier, and for 2023 the great Christmas tree is back. There will also be food trucks and DJs to add to the festive atmosphere.
7. Tokyo Skytree Dream Christmas
Tokyo Skytree (and Skytree Town) will be decked out in colorful finery for the festive season. From November 9, their popular Christmas market is also back and will be selling things like German-made ornaments, beer, sausages, and the like. There will be live music and a general wintery feeling all around.
8. Midtown Winter Lights
This is hands down one of the most popular winter illumination displays in Tokyo. It usually sees thousands of visitors (and hundreds of security guards) every evening, until the dramatic finale on December 25 with monster crowds. Every year brings something different. For 2023, there will be sustainable Christmas trees and a gold art installation surrounded by colorful lights and fog. Next door, take your chance on the ice at Midtown Ice Rink.
9. Kioi Winter 23/24
Kioi Winter 2023 has not yet been confirmed, but it usually features a 10-meter-tall Christmas tree and Tokyo Garden Terrace’s distinctive giant stag symbol. You can get some striking pictures from nearby Benkei Bridge, which you will cross if you are coming from Akasaka Mitsuke.
This illumination has yet to be confirmed for 2023. Check back soon.
10. Yomiuriland Jewellumination
Yomiuriland is an amusement park less than an hour from Shinjuku Station, heading west on the Odakyu Line. The winter illumination at Yomiuriland is justifiably named “Jewellumination” seeing as Motoko Ishii — a famous Japanese lighting designer — blingified the entire amusement park with literally millions of LED lights. You can choose between a viewing ticket or a park pass ticket, which includes access to all of the rides. Get your tickets in advance.
Pro tip: While you’re there, also try the Hana Akari bamboo light illuminations next door.
Other Tokyo illuminations to see
You won’t be able to step out in winter in Tokyo without running into an illumination or two. Nearly all department stores will have a Christmas tree and some lights, and there are also year-round lights, like those in Odaiba. Here are a few of our other favorites.
Shibuya Blue Cave Illumination
A cave made up of trees (much nicer than a real cave, in our opinion), this Tokyo illumination is one of the most magical thanks to the impressive colors. It draws huge crowds for good reason; 700,000 LED lights are strung up on an 800-meter route between Shibuya and Harajuku, and you can access it from either station. 2023 will see a Christmas market held at the same time.
Held within the KITTE shopping mall next to Tokyo Station, White KITTE is a unique Christmas light-up event featuring real fir trees and white decorations. With the Marunouchi Illumination and a light-up in Hibiya happening nearby, this is sure to be a hugely popular free show.
Shinjuku Southern Terrace Illumination
These annual illuminations around the south side of Shinjuku Station always attract a crowd and are well worth checking out if you’re in the area. There are usually around 170,000 LED bulbs.
Meguro River Illumination
See the famous cherry blossom view of Meguro River in winter — well, sort of. The area along the river bank between Gotanda and Osaki Station will shine with nearly 350,000 pink-colored LEDs from 5 p.m. to 10 p.m. every night. The lights will be powered by cooking-oil waste from local homes and businesses.
Need more holiday cheer in your life? Check out these Tokyo Christmas markets!
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