Christmas in Tokyo offers a unique twist on the traditional holiday, with colorful lights, festive markets, Christmas-themed menus at KFC, and romantic date nights.
Though not an official holiday, Christmas captures the imagination of Tokyoites who have embraced the decorations, gift giving, and excuse to gather with loved ones. For visitors, it is a special time to experience Tokyo and make new holiday memories.
1. Christmas Market at Meiji Shrine Outer Garden
The Tokyo Christmas Market 2023 will run from November 23 to December 25 at Meiji Shrine Outer Garden. Over 550,000 people attended last year’s event in Hibiya Park. The market aims to recreate the traditional Christmas markets in Europe with a 14-meter tall Christmas Pyramid, over 50 booths selling food, drinks, gifts and more. There’s also live music and dance performances.
2. Snoopy-Themed Ice Skating Rink to Open for Christmas
A Snoopy-themed ice skating rink called “Snoopy Ice Arena” will open on December 9th in Machida City, Tokyo through February 25th. Part of a “Snoopy’s Christmas Garden Party” event, the ice rink will feature Peanut’s characters with Christmas decorations. Great for couples, families and fans.
3. Yebisu Garden Place Christmas Illumination Returns
From mid-November into early January, Yebisu Garden Place will transform into a glittering winter wonderland. The highlight is the giant Baccarat crystal chandelier called the “Eternal Lights” display. A special 30-minute light show titled “kibou” meaning “light of hope” also runs periodically.
4. See Mt. Fuji and Hakone
Explore the beauty of Japan’s natural wonder, Mt. Fuji, and the serene Hakone in just one day. This well-organized tour takes you to the 5th Station of Mt. Fuji, the Ninja House, Japanese Garden, Owakudani Valley, Lake Ashi cruise, and Hakone Shrine, all with the convenience of a professional English-speaking tour guide. Enjoy a buffet lunch and return to Tokyo on the bullet train for a memorable experience.
5. Tokyo Christmas Tour with a Local Guide: Private & Tailored to You
Discover the magic of Tokyo’s Christmas traditions with a private and customizable Christmas Tour. Immerse yourself in the festive season with a local guide who will take you on a journey through Tokyo’s unique holiday attractions. Whether you prefer a few hours or a full day, create your own itinerary and savor the holiday spirit.
6. Make Sushi in Asakusa
Indulge in an immersive sushi-making experience in the heart of Tokyo’s Asakusa district. In this hands-on cooking class, you’ll learn the art of crafting delicious sushi, including nigiri sushi, and even receive tips for practicing at home.
With a knowledgeable English-speaking staff and stunning views of the city, it’s a delightful opportunity to create memorable culinary moments while exploring the history of Asakusa.
7. Experience Local Ramen Shops and Bars
Embark on a culinary adventure in the vibrant district of Ueno, Tokyo. This tour offers an authentic taste of local Japanese culture as you explore hidden gems that are favored by the locals. You’ll visit standing bars and taverns, enjoying a variety of delicious dishes and alcoholic beverages.
With a knowledgeable guide to lead the way and translate for you, you can immerse yourself in the flavors of Tokyo and experience the lively atmosphere of Ueno. It’s an ideal way to discover the local food scene while making new friends along the way.
8. Order Christmas Themed Drinks From Starbucks
From special holiday drinks from Starbucks. Starbucks Japan recently unveiled its latest festive concoctions for the holiday season – the Melty White Pistachio Frappuccino and Melty White Pistachio Mocha. These limited-edition drinks bring a unique pistachio twist to Starbucks’ Christmas menu.
9. See the Illuminations at Caretta Shiodome
The winter lights display at this shopping complex includes a massive Christmas tree as the centerpiece, with over 1 million LED lights synchronized to holiday music. Grab street food from the vendors and enjoy the festive atmosphere. This light show is typically held each year, but in 2024 it has yet to be announced.
10. Wander through Roppongi Hills Christmas Market
This lively German-style Christmas market has stalls selling European food, hot wine, handmade crafts and more, with the Roppongi Hills Mori Tower as a backdrop.
11. Order Christmas Fried Chicken at KFC
A decades-old Japan tradition, KFC launches festive holiday meal buckets like the Party Barrel which must be ordered weeks in advance due to popularity.
12. Disney Magic Sparkles at Tokyo Disneyland Christmas
From November into January, Tokyo Disneyland rolls out festive Christmas decorations, special shows and events. Highlights include the Christmas version of the popular Electrical Parade Dreamlights show and meeting Mickey Mouse and friends dressed up for the holidays. Couples, families and Disney fans soak up the yuletide spirit.
13. Visit a Specialty Christmas Cafe
Themed cafes like the Pokémon Christmas Cafe decorate for the season and serve up sweet and savory Christmas-inspired foods and drinks.
14. Check out the Hyaku-man Boroichi Market
Grab traditional Japanese treats and do some souvenir shopping at this huge market recreating a merchants’ fair from the Edo period.
15. Go Ice Skating in Yokohama
The Minato Mirai area in Yokohama has an outdoor ice skating rink open from late November to February.
16. Visit the Mori Art Museum for Kusama: Cosmic Nature
See the colorfully polka-dotted works of renowned Japanese artist Yayoi Kusama exhibited against the winter backdrop of Tokyo Tower.
17. Have a Christmas-Themed Photo Shoot
In Harajuku, inventive costume shops like Kiddy Land offer accessories to fuel Christmas outfit photo shoots. Strike a pose with Santa hats and more!
18. Check Out Nakameguro Holiday Illuminations
Known for its cherry blossom tunnel, Nakameguro adds blue lights to the Meguro River in the winter for an icy display at the end of December.
19. Stroll through Odaiba Winter Oasis Again
Found on the manmade island of Odaiba, this holiday market boasts ice sculptures, winter VR worlds, German foods and drinks, and a 3-story Christmas pyramid for photo ops.
20. Shop for Holiday Souvenirs at Tokyo Character Street
At First Avenue and Ichigaya Stations on the Tokyo Metro, platforms for fifteen franchises like Hello Kitty, Studio Ghibli and Pokémon feature unique goods sold as holiday gifts.
21. Eat at Genki Sushi Christmas Party Decorations
The Conveyor Belt Sushi chain Genki Sushi decks out select branches in festive Christmas lights and wreaths to match the special holiday dishes.
22. Admire the Ginza Holiday Illumination
The main shopping avenue of Ginza comes alight with artful winter illuminations across multiple streets, featuring over 500,000 LED lights.
23. See Art Installations at Midtown Christmas Display
Neighborhoods like Roppongi Midtown bring in art installations like playful trampolines with the area’s holiday decorations and lights.
24. Visit Namiki Dori and Keyakizaka Illuminations
In Roppongi’s Art Triangle, Namiki Street and Keyakizaka Avenue dazzle with delicate hanging lights over promenades lined by ginkgo trees.
25. Have a White Christmas Meal at The Capitol Hotel Tokyu
The 5-star hotel’s annual White Christmas buffet offers a chance to dine with Santa on dishes prepared by 18 acclaimed chefs.
26. Check out Scandinavia and Bangkok Connect Christmas Shows on Odaiba
Unique cross-cultural performances on this artificial island in Tokyo Bay include acrobatics, dance and music from Thai and Nordic performers.
27. Join a Special Event at Huis Ten Bosch
This Dutch-themed amusement park in Nagasaki puts on Kingdom of Lights winter illuminations, with projection mapping shows, Christmas menus, events and more.
28. Hunt for Bargain Toys at Hard Off
Second-hand chain Hard Off stocks aisles of toys, offering the chance to hunt for retro and rare collectibles amidst all the Christmas plushes.
29. Visit Christmas Hills in Hakone
The Little Prince Museum in Hakone holds the Christmas Hills event from mid-November into December, with multi-colored illumination displays.
30. See the Snoopy Illumination at Minato Mirai
The Yokohama neighborhood of Minato Mirai dresses up for Christmas as part of the Blue Fantasy winter light display, starring Snoopy characters all aglow.
31. Head to Ise Jingu Shrine’s Ontohsai Festival
At Japan’s most sacred Shinto shrine in Mie prefecture, Igasho maidens in Heian period attire perform ancient dances and music rituals.
32. Eat at the One Piece Restaurant Baratie
At this pirate-themed eatery in Tokyo Tower, a One Piece-themed Christmas menu awaits fans of the long-running anime and manga series.
33. Join the Tokyo Tower Winter Fantasy Light Show
Nightly in December, Tokyo Tower puts on projection mapping light shows with holiday music, transform
34. See Dazzling Winter Illuminations
Venues across Tokyo spotlight creative light art installations and displays. Stroll through shimmering tunnels in Roppongi and Ebisu, see massive Christmas trees glittering with over 1 million LED lights, and more.
35. See Special Exhibits at Art Museums
Major art museums roll out special exhibits to coincide with the festive season. See colorfully polka-dotted works by Yayoi Kusama with Tokyo Tower as a backdrop at Roppongi’s Mori Art Museum this December.
36. Check out Amusement Parks
Though cold out, amusement parks often have special winter light displays, shows, holiday menus and more. At Fuji-Q Highland, take a 30-minute horse-drawn sleigh ride with excellent views of Mt. Fuji.
37. Have Christmas-Themed Fun at Character Brand Locations
At Tokyo Character Street shops, Gundam Cafe, Sanrio stores, and more – hunt for special edition goods and see holiday decor themed on beloved characters. Great for fans and gifts!
38. Dine on Special Menus
From Christmas edition burgers at fast food chains to 5-star hotel buffets to pirate-themed anime restaurants, venues across Tokyo dish out special menus this season. Order the classics too like KFC Christmas chicken buckets.
39. Explore Temple & Shrine Festivals
While not related to Christmas, December’s a big month for traditional Japanese festivals at temples and shrines. In Mie prefecture, catch Igasho maidens dancing at Ise Jingu Shrine’s annual festival.
40. Join In On Romantic Couple Activities
Christmas Eve is big date night in Japan. Couples flock to winter light displays with lively ambiance, restaurants boasting holiday dinners, and picture perfect spots like the Meguro River blue light “crystal walkway”.
41. Go Ice Skating
Lace up your skates and take to one of Tokyo’s several ice rinks usually open from late November into February. The one in Yokohama’s Minato Mirai area even offers Bay views.
That covers 41 top things for Christmas and winter fun in Tokyo! With so many events, special menus, picture-perfect decorations and exhibits happening across the city, it is truly a magical time to visit. Bundle up and make some festive memories in Japan’s capital this December. Let me know if you need any other Tokyo activity recommendations!