While you may still be recovering from all the turkey and pies you had on Thanksgiving, Japan is already embracing the arrival of Christmas at full speed: you’ve seen the illuminations, you’ve seen Colonel Sanders dressed as Santa Claus and you’ve seen Christmas sales begin at most major shopping malls across the country. But besides all that (and the Christmas cakes), you know Christmas is coming when you find yourself at a Europe-inspired market, sipping hot wine and searching for a piece of Stollen. While most of these markets attract Japanese crowds for the beer and the pretzels, they are also some of the few venues where you can enjoy a somewhat real sense of Christmas – as you’re used to it from back home. Here are our top picks of Christmas bazaars and markets in and near Tokyo for this year.
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Roppongi Hills Christmas Market is the Japanese replication of Stuttgart’s famous (and one of the world’s largest) Christmas marché. It offers over 2,000 Christmas-inspired goodies — from authentic German delicacies to snow globes, ornaments and other festive kitsch. Santa Claus and his reindeer crew will supervise from above the stalls, bringing smiles to the kids and a pleasant vibe for the adults. Original anniversary goods, such as mug cups for your glühwein, will also be on sale.
When: Now through Dec. 25, 2018, 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. (Until 10 p.m. on Fri, Sat, and Christmas Eve)
Where: Roppongi Hills O-Yane Plaza, 6-11-1 Roppongi, Minato-ku, Tokyo
Tokyo Christmas Market will occupy Hibiya Park for a limited period of ten days in December, turning the area into an almost-real fairy tale. Expect to be impressed by the market’s great array of food and drink stalls, various international holiday crafts, and entertaining stage performances. There will also be handicraft workshops and daily live stages by German, Japanese and gospel groups. But without doubt, the most amazing feature of this event is the stunningly illuminated 14m-high Christmas pyramid imported straight from Dresden — because the holiday season is not only about Christmas trees and red boots.
When: Fri, Dec. 14 – Tue, Dec. 25, 2018, 11 a.m. to 10 p.m.
Where: Hibiya Park, Hibiya Koen, Chiyoda-ku, Tokyo
The Yokohama Akarenga Christmas Market is one of the biggest and most popular markets of its kind in Japan, drawing tens of thousands of visitors annually. It’s a great place to visit for shopping, eating, and sightseeing, as well as to experience a truly festive feeling under the (real) giant Christmas tree. There’ll be hot wine, seasonal ornaments and beautiful illuminations, live Christmas song shows (on Nov. 29, 30, Dec. 4, 8 and 13 from 2 and 5 p.m.) and various other entertaining events. Santa Claus will also be making casual appearances once in a while carrying presents for the little ones. If you drop by, don’t forget to follow Akarenga’s official Instagram account (@yokohamaredbrick) and post a photo with a hashtag #赤レンガクリスマス (Akarenga Kurisumasu) for a chance to win shopping vouchers worth ¥20,000.
When: Now through Tue, Dec. 25, 2018, 11 a.m.-9 p.m.
Where: Yokohama Akarenga, 1-1, Shin-Minato, Naka-ku, Yokohama-shi, Kanagawa
As soon as you pass through the long Sky Walk from JR Ebisu station, you’ll be greeted by a giant Christmas tree, overseeing a wide array of stalls selling European-inspired crafts, food and seasonal gifts. The entire shopping complex is decorated with thousands of gorgeously shining LED lights and an impressive Baccarat chandelier, making this market one of the most romantic and festive venues for this holiday season.
When: Now through Tue, Dec. 25, 2018, 11 p.m. to 8 p.m.
Where: Ebisu Garden Place 4-20, Ebisu, Shibuya-ku, Tokyo
Though a bit far away from the city center, this European-style Saitama Christmas Market is just as cozy and festive as the rest. Try various goods and food from all over Europe and get creative at the market’s original Christmas ornament workshop. While most Christmas markets in Japan are German-inspired, here you can find traditional ornaments from Austria, Russia, France and other countries that also celebrate Christmas.
When: Now through Tue, Dec. 25, 2018, 3 p.m. to 8 p.m. (Weekdays) 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. (Weekends)
Where: Saitama Super Arena Keyaki Hiroba, 8 Shin Toshin, Chuo-ku, Saitama-shi, Saitama
6. Tokyo Skytree Solamachi Christmas Market
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New to the list since last year, Tokyo Skytree invites guests to shop around for Christmas goods and treats amid stunning winter illuminations at the base of the capital’s highest tower. There will be a variety of Germany-inspired traditional crafts and goods, warm food and drink stalls and some entertainment. If you’re new to Tokyo, this is a great place to feel the holiday spirit while sightseeing at one of its landmarks!
When: Now through Tue, Dec. 25, 2018
Where: Tokyo Skytree Solamachi, Sky Arena 4F, 1-1-2 Oshiage, Sumida-ku, Tokyo
*This article was first published in December 2017 and has been updated with the latest facts and figures on December 2, 2018.