We already discussed about how Christmas is "celebrated" in Japan, as a semi-religious (pagan then Christian) and semi-marketing (inspired by Coca-Cola and their Santa Claus) festivity. It was never an important event in the country with a Christian population of only 2%, whereas the vast majority follows Shintoism and Buddhist cults.
The marketing part thus took over Christmas in Japan. Japanese people don't see this celebration (yet?) as an opportunity to offer presents and spend time with their family, but perhaps rather as a romantic event. What strikes every visitor in Japan, however, is the incredible presence of Christmas decorations everywhere, and especially in Tokyo. They usually appear from November 1, immediately after Halloween, and last until early February, although many are taken down at the end of December.
As soon as Halloween finished, the pumpkins are replaced with Christmas trees, garlands and Santa Claus figures. Tokyo’s squares, buildings and walks are decorated with Christmas ornaments. Many stores adorn their shelves with kawaii or Disney decorations and broadcast songs and traditional music that rocked our Decembers since childhood.
Below is a selection of places we consider the most beautifully decorated areas for Christmas in Tokyo:
- Shinjuku Southern Terrace, opposite the south exit of the JR subway station;
- Ginza district and especially its large shopping avenue, where all the major luxury brands dress up their stores and even entire buildings with Christmas-themed decoration!
- Harajuku’s Omotesando, one of the biggest shopping streets in Tokyo. Since 1991 and depending on the year, the illuminations can span 500 meters to 1,1 km.
- Tokyo Sky Tree, hosting a Christmas market inspired by Strasbourg’s (France) famous one;
- The large avenues in Marunouchi an Shibuya’s Omotesando;
- Christmas Midtown in Akasaka district, at the limit with Roppongi, in Tokyo Midtown;
- Caretta Shiodome and its thousand lights;
- Tokyo Dome, where the village displays special decorations;
- Ebisu Garden Place between the restaurants;
- Tokyo Disney Resort, and its two parks;
- A “festival” in Yoyogi Park; and
- Many other districts in the capital.
Have a look at our pictures of Tokyo in the photo gallery below, taken between November and December. The most beautiful spots reveal themselves at nightfall, which happens quite early in Japan at this time of the year.
There are also Christmas decorations elsewhere in Japan, especially in large cities like Kyoto and others.
Merry Christmas メリー クリスマス to you all!