Kyoto during Christmas time

Decorations, nocturnal lights and shopping

While the end of the year is coming, and December sees numerous thanking celebrations happening in the city’s diverse companies, Kyoto does not forget to celebrate Santa-san, the Japanese Santa Claus. No need to mention the non-religious aspect of it in this country of only 1% Christians, but let’s focus on their fantastic decorations.

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Christmas in Japan

Even though Kyoto does not play at the same level as Tokyo, let's gather here some interesting places to visit, especially headquarters of big local companies. It is interesting to note that nocturnal lights can start as early as the end of November and run until December 25th.

  • The main train station is without a doubt the most frequented spot. Indeed, surrounding the huge Christmas tree and its vibrant Merry Xmas, we can stop in the middle of the big stairs during a show. Windowed facades of its modern building perfectly reflect this luminous totem. The bus and taxis exit area is also lighted.
  • The Rohm Illumination is worth the detour in the secluded district where it is settled. It is one of the most important decorations of the city. The surroundings of this semiconductor corporation’s headquarters, especially the two yamamomo laurel trees and the meta-sequoias alley of Sai-dori, are dressed up with more than 800,000 LEDs during nighttime and offer a gorgeous perspective for wanderers.
  • Even more secluded is the Kyocera Building in Fushimi, where a luminous and perfectly geometrical Christmas tree is drawn with the office windows. Nearby flora is also decorated by garlands, yet not during the 2018 edition due to renovation works.
  • The Arashiyama area holds its nocturnal festival, Hanatoro, during 10 days in mid-December. A 5 km itinerary (also sponsored by Rohm) is highlighted by LEDs and traditional lanterns. The famous Togetsukyo Bridge and bamboo forest reveal a new and mystical charm. On the way, floral masterpieces of ikebana create a pleasant atmosphere in this very touristic area.

Downtown Kyoto does not have notable settings; however, it is the natural main place for Christmas shopping. Choices and inspiration are broad in its stores, from kawaii boutiques to big malls and more luxurious brands such as Daimaru and Takashiyama.

December 25th is a workday in Japan, and when this day falls on a weekday, there is no difference from any other day of work. For those willing to plan something specific, we can cite two 100% Japanese events happening on Christmas day:

  • Stay in a shopping mood with Tenjin-san and visit the last flea market of the year in Kitano Tenmangu. Along with the classical hunt for old daily items, famous street food stalls serve yakisoba noodles and fried food like karaage, among others, to provide an open-air Christmas lunch.
  • Or look for more spirituality in Chion-in temple and see the Honen statue cleaning ceremony. Honen is the founding monk of Jodo Buddhism in Japan. Called O-minugui Shiki, this annual ritual is performed by the temple’s monks who delicately wipe the statue with silk fabric.

Finally, in the surrounding area, those who love illumination must not miss Kobe Luminarie and Osaka Hikari Renaissance, less than one hour by train.

Merry Christmas / メリークリスマス to everyone!

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Photo gallery

  • Kyoto, Rohm Christmas Illuminations
  • Kyoto Station, Christmas illuminations
  • Kyoto Station, Christmas illuminations 4
  • Kyoto Station, Christmas illuminations 2
  • Kyoto Station, Christmas illuminations 3
  • Kyoto, Rohm Christmas Illuminations 2
  • Kyoto, Rohm Christmas Illuminations 3
  • Kyoto, Rohm Christmas Illuminations 4
  • Kyoto, Kyocera Building Christmas Illuminations
  • Kyoto, Kyocera Building Christmas Illuminations 2
  • Kyoto, Kyocera Building Christmas Illuminations 3

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