2023 — a year that has been both very long and all too short — is coming to a close. But before that clock hits midnight on December 31, try out some of these festivities.
Remember, December is the month of winter illuminations and Christmas markets in Tokyo. If you are looking for a New Year countdown party or more traditional things to do, then check out our dedicated New Year’s Eve guide.
1. Odaiba Rainbow FireworksDecember 2–23
Odaiba Seaside Park, Odaiba
Get ready for some pretty awesome fireworks. Already a romantic spot, the Seaside Park in front of Decks Shopping Mall will be filled to the brim with couples every Saturday in December (except the 31st). While the firework display only lasts for five minutes, it’s still well worth the visit — plus there are plenty of other things to do in Odaiba while you’re there.
2. Hagoita-ichi FairsDecember 17–19
Sensōji Temple, Asakusa
Hagoita are wooden paddles that were once used to play hanetsuki, a Japanese badminton-like game. Over time, they became regarded as an auspicious symbol — they’re used for hitting, after all, so maybe they could “hit” bad luck as well; get it? Thus, at Sensoji Temple’s Hagoita Market and Kasukabe Hagoita Market you’ll see elaborate, purely ornamental hagoita, which are meant to welcome good luck and drive away bad luck. Great for gifts.
3. Winter ComiketDecember 30–31
Tokyo Big Sight, Odaiba
If you’re into Japanese pop culture, comics, and cosplay, be sure not to miss Winter Comiket, the major geeky year-ender. This event draws tons of doujinshi (fan-made comics) collectors, cosplayers, and photographers every year, so be prepared for crowds and queues (yes, even to take photos of the more popular cosplayers).
Read our guide to cosplaying at Comiket to learn about Japanese cosplay event etiquette and what to expect.
4. Tokyo Comic ConDecember 8–10
Makuhari Messe, Chiba
While anime and manga tend to be celebrated in Japan throughout the whole year, the biggest celebration of Western comic books and entertainment can be found at the end of the year.
Comic Con is famous the world over for merchandise, celebrity meet and greets, as well as cosplay — and Tokyo’s edition is no different. For 2023, Tom Felton, Christopher Lloyd, Evangeline Lilly, Benedict Cumberbatch, Tom Hiddleston, Ewan McGregor, and many more big names will be on the bill.
|Advance sales: ¥4,400|
|Advance sales: ¥2,500|
5. Christmas marketsUntil December 25
All around Tokyo and beyond
Are we cheating with this entry? A little. While we have a whole article detailing the best of 2023’s Christmas markets, our three ultimate favorites are:
- Tokyo Christmas Market — Get tickets here
- Yokohama Red Brick Warehouse Christmas Market
- Roppongi Hills Christmas Market
Bonus December events for 2023
- The Chichibu Night Festival has all you could ever want: floats, fireworks, and food.
- Buy some manga and comics at Jump Festa.
- Feel the heat at the Akibasan Fire Festival.
- Down a pint at Belgian Beer Weekend Shinjuku.
- Join in a mammoth flea market at Setagaya Boroichi Market II.
While we do our best to ensure it’s correct, information is subject to change.
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