By Yian Lu
In the blink of an eye, we are nearing the end of 2019. Regardless of how many items you have checked in your bucket list, the last spurt is finally here — year-end holidays! If you are going to Tokyo in the next few weeks, you are in luck as we are listing down 10 recommended free winter illuminations you must see!
1. Tokyo Skytree Town Dream Christmas
Until 25 December 2019, 4pm to 12am every day
First of all, this is situated at Tokyo Solamachi, right under one of the icons of Tokyo: the Skytree. It is not only easily accessible with Tokyo Skytree station and Oshiage station right at its doorstep, but also allows you to satisfy your inner suaku (country bumpkin) tourist self with a “been here, done that”. Unlike most illumination spots, you can even do some tax-free shopping at Tokyo Solamachi which boasts more than 300 stores.
2. Omohara Illumination
Until 25 December 2019, 5pm to 10:30pm every day
Who knew Harajuku had such a place? Located at the rooftop garden of Tokyu Plaza Omotesando Harajuku or Omohara for short, this illumination is a three-minute walk from Meiji-jingumae station, where you can have a romantic picnic surrounded by warm LED lights.
3. Ao no Dokutsu Shibuya
From 29 November to 31 December 2019, 5pm to 10pm every day
After your picnic at Omohara, you can take a leisurely 15-minute stroll to Yoyogi Park, where you will find Ao no Dokutsu (Blue Cavern) Shibuya. As its name suggests, an 800m stretch in the park is lit up in mesmerising blue lights. Needless to say, this illumination is more than Instagram-worthy.
4. Night Sync Yokohama
Until 27 December 2019, at 6pm, 7pm, 8pm and 9pm, about 10 minutes long
If you prefer somewhere off Tokyo city, you can find a beautiful light exhibition at Yokohama Red Brick Warehouse. Less than an hour by train from Tokyo to either Bashamichi station or Nihon-odori station, Night Sync Yokohama is an interactive display which caters digital content on sports, games and visual art.
5. Tokyo Dome City Winter Illumination
東京ドームシティのイルミネーション点灯式、無事に、、点灯しました、、！！🌟やったー、来年の2月末まで開催されているそうですっ ぜひ足を運んで下さい🏃♂️✨— 玉城 ティナ TinaTamashiro (@tina_tamashiro) November 13, 2019
Until 26 February 2020, 5pm to 12am every day
Tokyo Dome is a venue for baseball matches and pop music concerts. But did you know there is an entertainment complex next to it called Tokyo Dome City? Accessible within a short walk from Korakuen station or Suidobashi station, this is one of the top illumination spots in Tokyo with hundreds of thousands of LEDs used. This year, they will be decorating with Japanese traditional styles such as cherry blossoms and Mount Fuji.
6. Yebisu Garden Place Winter Illumination
Until 13 January 2020, 4pm to 12am every day
This annual winter display at Yebisu Garden Place features one of the largest chandeliers in the world — a Baccarat chandelier that is 5m tall and 3m wide, constructed in 1994. This illumination site is decorated with about 100,000 lights in total, covering areas like the famous Clock Tower Square where Domyoji waited for Makino in the rain in Japanese television drama Hana Yori Dango.
Moreover, if you cannot make it for the lights at night, you can still take in the festive vibes during the day with the humongous Christmas tree. The Baccarat chandelier will also light up from 11am to 12am every day.
7. Caretta Shiodome Winter Illumination
Until 14 February 2020, 5pm to 11pm every day
When it comes to themed illumination, Caretta Shiodome Winter Illumination is second to none. Last year, their lights danced to the music from Disney’s films Tangled, Frozen and Beauty and the Beast. This year, their illumination is bound to take you on an adventure on a magic carpet with Arabian night as the theme, inspired from Disney’s Aladdin. Besides, Caretta Shiodome is easily accessible with underground passages from Shiodome station and Shimbashi station.
8. Illumination Island Odaiba
Generally until 25 December 2019, from sunset to 12am every day
Odaiba is an entertainment hub connected by the Rainbow Bridge in Tokyo Bay. After the Caretta Shiodome Winter Illumination, you can hop on the Yurikamome train at Shiodome station to travel to Daiba station. On this island, you can catch various light-ups such as the iconic Palette Town Ferris Wheel which is 115m high, and Decks Tokyo Beach (from early December 2019 to 31 January 2020) featuring a 20m high and 10m wide spectacular Christmas tree.
Best of all, from 7 December 2019 to 5 January 2020, you can catch the usually white Rainbow Bridge glowing in rainbow colours! If you do your photography angle well, you can even capture Tokyo Tower in the background. On the four Saturdays of December, there will also be a 5-minute fireworks display at 7pm.
9. Tokyo Midtown Christmas
Until 25 December 2019, 5pm to 11pm every day
To be more specific, this illumination is actually at the Midtown Garden just outside of the shopping mall Tokyo Midtown. You can make your way there from Nogizaka station or Roppongi station. As you walk along the stretch of road towards the garden, you will see the trees decorated with fanciful lights. Dubbed as Starlight Garden, you will be greeted by a majestic light show with artificial stars and moons, 100 lit-up balloons and thousands of soap bubbles.
10. Keyakizaka Illumination
Until 25 December 2019, 5pm to 11pm every day
After the illumination at Tokyo Midtown, you can take a 12-minute walk to Roppongi Keyakizaka Dori. What seems like regular trees lighting up along the road is actually a popular photography spot. This is due to the position of this road which nicely leads up to an unobstructed view of the warmly lit Tokyo Tower. In addition, these lights on the trees are also designed to wave through the stretch of road, dim and brighten as if the trees are breathing, and shine randomly, brightening up the mundane road.
Now that you have seen our 10 recommended winter illuminations in Tokyo, which of these have you been to before, and which are you dying to see? Let us know in the comments section below!