It is always a wonderful time to be in Japan during December (apart from the more expensive air tickets and crowd) as the christmas celebrations over here is pretty intense. I’m not sure how many % of Japanese are actually Christians or Catholics but the concept of ‘Christmas’ has evolved into a celebratory festival among the masses and.. in Japan, they are very serious about their illuminations (LED light-ups). It only gets better every year and I’m pretty thankful for the chance to be in Japan during this time.
Here’s a list of illumination events that I’ve visited in the 4 nights I had in Japan.
- Night #1 – Fujisawa & Yokohama
- Night #2 – Enoshima Sea Candle
- Night #3 – Rikuguen, Tokyo Midtown
- Night #4 – Shibuya Blue Cave, Caretta Shidome
1. Terrace Mall Shonan in Fujisawa
For my first night in Japan, I attended Fujisawa Design Week, an event organized by ‘Japan Design Week’.
This year’s theme was ‘Art and Music’ and we were able to enjoy a live music performance by 4 music artists from Sony Music, attended a talk show with 3 members of ‘Team 8’ of AKB48 and also enjoyed the special outdoor exhibition of Akihiro Nishino Glowing Picture Book Exhibition for “Poupelle of Chimney Town”.
The event was held at Terrace Mall Shonan (Nearest Train Station: Tsujido), located within an hour from Tokyo via the Tokaido line. Outside the mall, there was an amazing display of Christmas Illumination which was accompanied by christmas carols. In December, the sun sets at 4:30pm and the sky darkens by 5pm! If I didn’t recall wrongly, the lights display started at 5PM. Despite the cold temperature and occasional wind, everyone is pretty much captivated with the display of lights.
On the second floor of the mall, you can find 41 glowing paintings from the Book Exhibition “POUPELLE OF CHIMNEY TOWN” by Akihiro Nishino.
This exhibition runs from 2nd to 10th December 2017.
I was very attracted to some pieces on display and I ended up buying the book from Kinokuniya when I reached Tokyo. I bought it after realising that it comes in both Japanese and English! Kind of regretted not buying on the event day as I could have gotten the author’s autograph! My favourite artwork on display is the one below, depicting a beautiful milky way.
On the event launch day (2 Dec 2017), Akihiro Nishino (37), the author himself, officiated the lighting ceremony for this event!
Did a bit of background research on him and he was formerly a popular comedian (even my friend who studied in Japan know who he was) prior to becoming an author and illustrator.
If the translation didn’t fail me, he is planning to make the book into the movie but it will take a couple more years. Really excited to see the end product and I hope Singapore will be airing it!
Found a video of the event day on YouTube. You can take a look if you are keen!
2. Christmas Market @ Yokohama Red Brick Warehouse
This Christmas Market event, highly inspired by the German Cologne Christmas Market, is currently in its 8th year! You can expect to do some Christmas shopping, feast on European dishes (German sausages) and also take photos with a 12-metres real fir tree. There’s also an outdoor ice skating rink should you be game enough for it!
Yokohama Christmas Market
Dates: 25 Nov ~ 25 Dec 2017
Official Event Page: (Japanese) https://www.yokohama-akarenga.jp/christmas2017/
We were lucky to have a local with us that night! He brought us to the photo spot where you can see the best view of Yokohama city skyline, with the Ferris Wheel as a focal point. The place (Osanbashi Pier) was about 15-20 mins walk from the Red Brick Warehouse area and I highly recommend you to walk over! Also, the LED light colours of the ferris wheel is very beautiful and we kind of waited super long for the rainbow one to appear (see IG video below).
3. Enoshima Sea Candle
If you’re intending to visit Enoshima, I highly recommend you to purchase a pass.
If you’re coming from Shinjuku, you can get either the
- Enoshima 1-day Passport at 1,970Y (includes attractions within Enoshima)
- Enoshima-Kamakura Free Pass at 1,470Y (does not include attractions but include Kamakura electric rail)
If you’re already in the area, you can consider getting the Kamakura-Enoshima Afternoon Pass which includes transport and attractions after 1pm.
I wanted to get the afternoon pass but the staff at the station was not able to sell me the pass at 11am (even though I told him that I would use after 1pm).
Due to lack of planning and indecisiveness, I bought everything separately and ended up paying 360Y (escalator cause I was lazy to climb a lot of stairs) + 200Y (entrance to Samuel Cocking Garden, the place with super nice illumination) + 300Y (entrance up the lighthouse, which is like the best spot for sunset). Transport wise, I spent at least 520Y and that’s a total of 1,380Y (which I could have just paid 1,000Y for). Oh, wells.
I didn’t plan to pay the additional 300Y to get up the lighthouse but.. I couldn’t find a good photo spot for my sunset view as the ‘free spots’ were too crowded. Went up to the lighthouse about 15 mins before the sun sets, but it was too ‘late’ to secure an outdoor space. I ended up going down to the indoor floor below (which was warmer) but my video did not turn out nice because of the glass and reflection.
After the sun sets at 4:30pm, there was a huge crowd hovering at another side of the lighthouse. There was like this super moon that night but that was not the focus. At 5PM sharp, there was some announcement and music and all of a sudden, the lights were turned on!
What a beautiful sight, from the top.
There was this super instagram-worthy LED tunnel of lights!
If you have that 1 extra day in Tokyo, do consider visiting Enoshima as it is a place I really love an I’m intending to visit it every single time I am back in Tokyo. I stayed one night in Kamakura and my hostel was just 30 seconds away from the beach. After breakfast, I spent another 30-45 mins sitting at the beach with my 24-inch luggage just staring out into the ocean and watch the waves. I’ll be writing about my amazing visit in Kamakura/Enoshima in a separate post so do check my blog again to read about it.
Dates: 25 Nov 2017 ~ 18 Feb 2018
Official Event Page: (English) http://travelenoshima.jp/festival/illumi.html
4. Rikugien Autumn Illumination
Note: This event is already over by the time I’m posting this entry.
I guess the highlight of this garden is that the waters are so calm and still, making the reflection shots almost perfect. The photos that I took doesn’t do justice to its beauty. I need a better camera and tripod.
5. Tokyo Midtown Illumination
Dates: 15 Nov ~ 25 Dec 2017
Official Page: (English) http://www.tokyo-midtown.com/jp/xmas/english/
I visited on a Monday and the theme for the night at Starlight Garden was The Moon A Mysterious “Total Solar Eclipse”
6. Shibuya Blue Cave Illumination
This is one of the more iconic illumination in Tokyo. The LED lights display expands a length of 750m along Yoyogi Stadium. They even add some transparent flooring in the middle to allow the lights to be reflected when you’re taking photographs. #effortmax
The only downside of this beautiful illumination is that your eyes will feel super tired and vision may be blurred if you stay too long inside.
Dates: 22 Nov ~ 31 Dec 2017
7. Yebisu Garden Place
To be honest, I think this illumination display is pretty basic (as compared to everything else) but if you’re a fan of chandeliers, there’s a super huge Baccarat display of Eternal Lights. There’s a mini Christmas market too, together with a red carpet which can be a runway for your #ootd if you can get everyone else out of your frame. On a side note, they have a very nice Okinawan ice cream ‘Blue Seal’ so do check it out when you’re there.
Website: (Japanese) https://gardenplace.jp/special/2017christmas/
8. Caretta Shiodome
To me, this was the most beautiful illumination performance (well, because they used the Beauty & the Beast songs which I was familiar with). I like how the lights blink, react and exagerrate to fit in the songs – ‘Tale as old as Time’ and ‘Be Our Guest’. The music+lights harmoney happens every 20 minutes for 6 mins each session. While the performance is not happening, you are able to queue (really long) for a chance to take photographs of/with the enchanted rose. If I’m not wrong, there’s also a Beauty & the Beast exhibition happening on the 46th floor but I believe it is chargeable.
Watch the full performance, captured by my iPhone 7.
Official Website: (Japanese) http://www.caretta.jp/Illumination/about.html
I wished I had more time in Japan to visit more illuminations. Well, there’s always.. next time!
Found these lists which has a lot more illuminations:
Get unlimited data and stay connected in Japan with Ninja Wifi!
Click banner below to enjoy 20% discount.