Tokyo Mega Illumination
Kanto’s Greatest Christmas Light-up
Tokyo Mega Illumination is a yearly winter event taking place from mid-October to early January at Oi Racecourse, in the south of Tokyo. This Christmas illumination show started in 2018 and is now known as the largest and more creative of the region. It attracts families, groups of friends and couples who wander in the evening under the bright and shiny installations.
Oi Racecourse (大井競馬場 Oikeibajo), also known as Tokyo City Keiba (TCK / 東京シティ競馬) is located in Shinagawa ward, in the south-west of the city center on the Tokyo Bay. It was built in 1954 on the monorail 🚝 line connecting Hamamatsucho to Haneda Airport. This large horse racing venue is particularly renowned for its night events, and especially the magical Tokyo Mega Illumination (or simply "Tokyo Mega Illumi") held every year since 2018, from mid-October to early January.
An unusual evening playground in Tokyo
The large number of installations and sound and light stagings is noticeable from the entrance. After crossing Twinkle Road surrounded by upbeat music, head toward the 2 main buildings of the racecourse:
- L-Wing (built in 2003) for shops and bleachers; and,
- G-Front (built in 2015) with indoor seating (heated in winter) and an interesting catering space.
A giant artificial tree, the symbol of the "Aurora forest" is placed as a central masterpiece to immerse in the Christmas atmosphere. Then the Twinkle Tunnel, illuminated by LED lights and video mappings, leads to the heart of the animations placed in the middle of the race track. The tunnel’s wonderfully lit up ceiling opens on a large outdoor space gathering most of the installations, especially in the 2022 edition:
- Seiryu no kagayaki (清流の輝き) that figures a clear stream of water whose surface makes waves like real water;
- Nijiiro no okaidan (虹色の大階段), a rainbow-colored stairway;
- Nihonbara fukei (日本原風景) reminding of the Japanese countryside’s landscapes, with the colors of rice paddies changing with the seasons. There is also a view on the fountain show in the background;
- Edo sakura 🌸 tonneru (江戸桜トンネル), a covered alley imitating a tunnel of blooming cherry trees;
- Fujidana (藤棚) and its pergola covered in blooming wisteria flowers bring forth spring;
- Shibafu hiroba (芝生広場), the horses’ resting area, with a spot to take pictures under a horseshoe-shaped arch;
- Kosai no otaki (光彩の大滝) is a small light bamboo grove with a dazzling animated waterfall, paired with a "rose 🌹 garden" (ローズガーデン), with about 4,000 illuminated plants arranged in small squares;
Lastly, the tour of the shiny attraction ends at the exit tunnel called Omoide Yokocho (おもいで横丁) which, as its name suggests, is a tribute to the warm side streets filled with izakaya bars.
Note that additional events are held on the weekends and we recommend sightseers to rather discover the Tokyo Mega Illumination on a weekday, when less crowd is expected.
Also a good place to eat
The show offered during this early evening walk will probably whet visitors’ appetite, and that can be quenched by Oikeibajo racecourse’s large choice of restaurants. The pleasure of this seasonal event is therefore extended into a gourmet break at one of the food shops open for the occasion, such as:
- The restaurant Starlight, located near the entrance, with menus to eat-in or to take away;
- Sweets Stable (スイーツステーブル) are food stalls homed in the stables and specialized in sweet desserts like Marion Crêpes or Korean waffles (croffle);
- Potatos & Churros is selling horseshoe-shaped fritters; and,
- Nagomi Café, located in front of the rose garden, serves more traditional Japanese dishes.
In the G-Front building people who bought food to take away can use the bleachers to seat and eat in a warm place. There are also a few stalls for the usual food to please the children especially: a bowl of udon noodles, a small donburi or a plate of Japanese curry.
Prices are affordable overall and it is possible to stay a bit longer for a comforting meal while watching these impressive Christmas illumination.