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Japan during the winter is a magical place for many reasons. Whether you like winter sports or relaxing in an onsen in the mountains, there’s a lot to choose from. But what if you live in a city like Tokyo? There’s still a lot to do but our favorite is to go see Tokyo Winter Illuminations. Japan does illuminations like no other country and most of them are free.
Here are our top 7 picks of the best Tokyo Winter Illuminations you don’t want to miss.
1. Tokyo Mega Illumination
At the Oi racecourse also known as Tokyo City Keiba, not only can you pet and take photos with real horses, but for a limited time during the winter, step into an illuminated wonderland packed full of twinkling lights, projection mapping, immersive performances, and multi-colored photo spots.
Walk through an aurora forest, watch a rainbow water fountain light show, get lost in a traditional Japanese light-up town, and grab a horse-themed bite to eat while enjoying Tokyo winter illuminations on an unparalleled scale.
The event takes place Nov. 2 – Jan. 8 daily from 4:30 pm to 9 pm. Location: Oi Racecourse – Oi Keibajo-mae Station. Price: ¥1,000-¥2,000 (advanced online: ¥800-¥1,500).
2. Roppongi Hills Christmas Illumination
Roppongi Hills is a popular place amongst the international community at most times of the year and even more so in the wintertime. The incredible lights are accompanied by an excellent Christmas market where you can get your fill of bratwurst and gluhwein
The most famous part of these illuminations is along Keyakizaka Street 400m with 700,000 lights in blue and white. Millions of people visit each year to admire the lights, so if it’s all a little much for you why not check out the garden at the Mori Tower? It’s a much quieter spot to relax with your spoils from the Christmas market.
The event takes place Nov. 25 – Dec. 25 daily from 11 am – 9 pm. Location: Roppongi Hills – directly outside exit C1 at Roppongi Station.
3. Shinjuku – Winter Illumination
There are many reasons to visit Shinjuku with plenty of shops, restaurants, and a Godzilla. But did you know that it has not one but two excellent sets of illuminations?
Firstly, there’s the Minami Lumi (新宿, ミナミルミ), a mix of lights and Christmas trees giving you something a bit different from the other displays around Tokyo and something a bit more traditional. It lines the south terrace of the area including the Takashimaya Times Square and the MAYNDs building.
Secondly, there’s the Shinjuku Terrace City Illuminations (新宿 テラスシティイルミネーション). These cover a large area encompassing Odakyu ACE, Odakyu Hotel Century Southern Tower, the Southern Terrace, and our favorite, Mosaic Street, which is lined with numerous pink lights that give you a warm glow as you go about your shopping.
The event takes place Nov. 17 – Feb. 14 daily from 5 pm to 11:59 pm. Location: Around Shinjuku – Shinjuku Station New South Exit.
4. Marunouchi Illumination
With the backdrop of the Tokyo station, the Marunouchi Illuminations are one of the best in the city. Organizers line the streets in this central city business district with millions of lights on hundreds of trees. It’s a beautiful display, and you can see why it’s been so popular over the years.
For those of you that are a bit worried about the massive amount of electricity being used then you’ll be pleased to know that a large number of the lights used are eco-friendly and use around 65% less power.
The event takes place Nov. 16 – Feb. 18 daily from 4 pm to 11 pm. Location: Marunouchi exit at Tokyo Station.
5. Megurogawa – Christmas
The Meguro River illuminations or the “Minna no Illumination” are some of the most Japanese-styled lights on display. With over 400,000 pink lights that will remind you of the cherry blossoms from spring and incidentally the cherry blossoms in the spring are just amazing.
With the 100% eco-friendly lights stretching around 2km down the river, it makes a perfect romantic walk.
The event takes place Nov. 10 – Jan. 8 daily from 5 pm to 10 pm. Location: Meguro River – 5 minutes from Gotanda or Osaki Stations.
6. Omotesando – Fendi Illuminations
The Italian fashion house Fendi is here to light up Toyko with 900,000 LEDs on Omotesando’s Zelkova tree-lined street in their iconic yellow hue. Stop by for a stroll in this public area to take iconic photos and shop for Christmas gifts among the glow of the lights.
Don’t miss out on the chance to bask in the glow of this warm-colored illumination, as it only lasts for 28 days a year!
The event takes place Dec. 1 – Dec. 28 daily from sunset until 10 pm. Location: Omotesando Station Exit A2 or B5.
7. Shibuya – Ao no Dokutsu
The Blue Grotto situated in Shibuya, is possibly one of the most famous sets of Tokyo winter illuminations. Commonly known as the Ao no Dokutsu (青の洞窟). These illuminations originally started in Nakameguro in 2014 and moved to Shibuya just outside of the NHK headquarters.
As you might have guessed the 600,000 lights that line this short stretch are all blue and there are strip lights along the site as well to make the avenue of trees seem like a blue cave as you wander through them. Extending along Shibuya Koen Dori Street down through Yoyogi Park it’s another magical winter wonderland. In recent years, a small Christmas market with delicious food and holiday goods has popped up along the route!
The event takes place Dec. 1 – Dec 25. daily from 3 pm to 9 pm. Location: Shibuya Koen Dori Street – Yoyogi-Hachiman or Harajuku Station
Experience Tokyo Winter Illuminations with Go! Go! Nihon
So which to choose? There are plenty of choices available on our list, and a lot more are available on top of these too. Why not spend your next winter in Japan exploring these Tokyo Winter Illuminations? Contact us to find out how to live and study in Japan.
To read more about all the winter activities to do in Japan, check out our main article on winter in Japan.