Winter's no excuse to stay inside. In fact, when the cold starts to creep through the wafer-thin walls and shoddy window frames of Tokyo houses and apartments, rather than trying to hide under a mountain of blankets, one might actually be better off engaging in some healthy outdoor activities. Ice skating's obviously something best experienced out in the open, and quality rinks have been popping up all around the city in recent years.
Here's our quick guide to the best skating spots out there, including both winter-only rinks and year-round, indoor facilities that are also great places for serious figure skating or ice hockey training. First-timer or seasoned veteran, family with kids or couple looking for a date spot – everyone's welcome, and gear rentals are available at most of these places as well.
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Glide at the foot of Tokyo Skytree, where this rink opens up from January until early March. It’s particularly atmospheric after dark when the surrounding illuminations are switched on – and you don't have to be an experienced skater to take part as there are one-on-one lessons (¥500) available. There’s also a mini rink made with eco-friendly plastic for primary-school children and younger, plus a small snow area for the little ones. For professional figure-skating performances, make sure to visit on January 4, when young Japanese talents show off their skills. Get in some outdoor winter fun before spring comes along.
Located at the Red Brick Warehouse’s event plaza, this popular and spacious ice-skating rink is back for its 15th run this year. The theme this season is ‘Sweets Ice Rink’, with the surroundings designed by Thai illustrator Wisut Ponnimit, who has created a modern yet retro atmosphere featuring his adorable character Mamuang. When you need a break from the ice, head to the nearby Hot Hot Café for some warm snacks such as panini or pizza. Skate rentals ¥500.
Located in Lalaport Toyosu overlooking the sea, this outdoor skating rink has an area of approximately 360sqm. The seaside deck will be lit up for a limited time this season, so everyone can take in the extra festive atmosphere while gliding on real ice. There will be a drink stand nearby, so you can warm up with a hot beverage after your skating session.
The 390sqm skate rink at Futako-Tamagawa's Rise shopping centre isn't exactly spacious to begin with, and tends to get very crowded – especially at night, when the illumination turns it into a romantic playground for couples. You can borrow a helmet for free but it's obligatory to wear gloves inside the rink. From January, the rink turns into a curling site every Tuesday and Thursday evenings.
Also, make sure to visit the Festival on Ice on February 11, where you can watch professional ice skating performances while the little ones can participate in free ice hockey and curling lessons.
The third edition of 'Jewellumination' at Yomiuri Land is more dazzling than ever. Head to the amusement park during the winter months for a shimmering display of colourful lights made to look like thousands of jewels. Installations include timed displays such as the 'Ice Show'. Make your way around the sizeable ice rink that is 40 metres long as you admire the myriad of light installations.
Adjacent to the Toshimaen amusement park, this is an outdoor, old-school skating rink where the ice is still built up gradually from thin layers of frozen water sprayed down every night.
Re-entry is free for the same day, so it makes for a fun family outing as you can combine your skating experience with a quick trip to the rides or lunch at one of the nearby restaurants. Adding to the atmosphere are the Christmas lights and the cheery background music, both of which are turned on in the evening.
The large-scale amusement park Fuji-Q Highland may not be in Tokyo (it's closer to Mt Fuji), but its easy accessibility from the capital, making it a great day-trip destination. During winter, the park opens its expansive ice skating rink, covering a total of 3,800 square metres. Glide over the ice while taking in the great views of Mt Fuji, and at night you can look forward to sparkling illuminations. If you're not an ice skating expert yet, there are free lessons daily from 10am and 2pm.
In its 11th run this year, this outdoor ice skating rink opens for a limited time and can hold up to 210 people. Enjoy being surrounded by greenery while you skate and, from 5pm-10pm, you'll get the added scenery of pretty illuminations.
At 60m by 30m, this is a full-scale, international competition-sized rink that can accommodate ice hockey and other sports. Situated inside the Citizen Plaza entertainment complex in Takadanobaba, the rink is open to the public except for early morning and evening hours...
This competition-standard rink operates year-round, and is always open to the public. Catch a glimpse of aspiring professional skaters during training sessions.
Formerly known as the Higashi-Fushimi Ice Arena, this sizable rink is capable of accommodating 3,500 visitors, and offers figure skating classes, Sunday skating classes and more. The rink is only open to the public at specified times...
This indoor rink is generally open to the public, and is also available for ice hockey (at specified times only). Everyone is welcome to play during the ice hockey hours, provided that you're wearing all the protective gear required...
This sports complex offers facilities for a variety of purposes, including an international standard-sized skating rink, which is open for skating year-round. The centre is also used as a venue for ice hockey and figure skating, and offers spectator seating for up to 2,500 people...