1. Midtown Ice Rink
    Photo: Tanigawa KeisukeMidtown ice rink
  2. Christian Dior: Designer of Dreams
    Photo: Christian Dior: Designer of Dreams
  3. Omohara Christmas
    Photo: Kisa ToyoshimaOmohara Christmas Illumination

10 best events and things to do in Tokyo this winter 2023

What to see, eat, drink and do in the city to tide you over until cherry blossom season in late March 2023

Written by
Time Out Tokyo Editors
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When the days become shorter and teeth-grittingly cold, locals set up a kotatsu in their living rooms, a table with a heated duvet that is impossible to get out of once you’re settled in. If you happen to own one of these odd-looking centre-pieces in your living room, that is admittedly one good reason to stay in all day – but we’ll give you a few more reasons to go out. 

With the city decked in thousands of shimmering lights for the annual illumination displays, it’s almost a blessing that the sun goes down so early as Tokyoites venture out to their favourite neighbourhoods for wintery activities with friends and family.

RECOMMENDED: Most beautiful winter destinations in Japan

The best things to do in Tokyo this winter

  • Art
  • Kiyosumi

Following its success at the Musée des Arts Décoratifs in Paris from 2017 to 2018 and its visits to London and New York in 2019, the touring exhibition dedicated to the life and legacy of French designer Christian Dior is finally coming to Tokyo this winter.

Opening at the Museum of Contemporary Art on December 21, this mammoth retrospective will celebrate 75 years of Dior couture with a collection of timeless dresses and iconic designs from the post-war era to now. There will be a lot to take in, but the exhibition will thankfully run until May 28 2023 to give couture lovers ample time to view the collection.

  • Things to do

Illumination displays are one of the main attractions of winter in Tokyo. An outing to see the illuminations is a popular date idea because the spectacle of all those dazzling lights in gold or majestic blue is just so romantic at night (and, frankly, all the better for your wallet as these public displays are free). Even if you’ve decided not to give in to the pressures of cuffing season this year, these displays are worth a quick detour when you’re making your way around the city.

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  • Health and beauty
  • Spas

Having a long, hot onsen bath is a favourite local pastime. So with the weather being so cold, it’s a good time to ease your tired body with a nice warm soak. Most bathhouses will have a number of different baths, indoor as well as outdoor, with different kinds of minerals in the water to soften your skin. While there are many famous areas around Japan known for natural volcanic hot springs, there are still plenty of options within the city that are easily accessible and open all hours of the night.

  • Things to do
  • Ice skating

You don’t have to be a world class figure skater to go for a glide around the rink. A number of outdoor skating facilities have popped up around Tokyo, where people of all ages gleefully take to the ice to practice some impressive tricks, or learn to skate a little more smoothly than last year. Whether you’re a seasoned skater or prefer to stay close to the sidelines as you make your way around the rink, these outdoor skating spots are sure to add some flair to the winter months. 

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  • Restaurants
  • Japanese

Nabe, or nabemono, is the Japanese word for hot pot cuisine, where diners can have a casual get-together and share a communal, belly-warming meal that’s as delicious as it is nourishing. The dishes are similar in that they typically involve simmering a variety of meat and vegetables in one large pot to be enjoyed on chilly nights by a large group of people, but differ in the base of their broth and the way they’re meant to be eaten. Check out our guide to the most common types of nabemono with a few of our favourite spots for hotpot.

Get your vegetables in with soup curry
Photo: Rojiura Samurai Curry

Get your vegetables in with soup curry

A winter staple that often gets overlooked in favour of ramen, soup curry is a Hokkaido speciality of tender meat and seasonal vegetables in a soul-warming curry broth. At Rojiura Curry Samurai, you can have your soup tailored exactly to your liking, from the number of nutrient-packed veggies to add as toppings to the spice level of your broth.

Soup bases, which are all additive-free, range from coconut shrimp flavour to Japanese-style curry broth. The range of toppings, on the other hand, includes slow cooked pork belly, crispy fried chicken and cheese mochi, among other nourishing delicacies. The soup shop can also be found on UberEats, so you don’t even have to leave the house to fill your belly with this warming dish.

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Sweat it out in a sauna
Photo: Anna Nagai (Solo Sauna Tune)

Sweat it out in a sauna

In the coldest days of the year, one might even start dreaming longingly of Tokyo’s roasting summer heatwaves. If you find yourself chilled to the bone and missing the sensation of sweating, one way to revive your body is through a leisurely sauna session at one of the city's many bathhouses.

Most of the onsen and designer sento facilities in the city like Paradise or Koganeyu have communal saunas in addition to hot spring baths, but there are also places like Solo Sauna Tune, where you can book a private sauna booth all to yourself.

  • Things to do

When these bright pink blossoms start blooming, it's easy to confuse them for the famous cherry blossoms that draw a staggering number of visitors every year. The preceding ume blossoms however, are beautiful in their own right, and their arrival signify a fast-approaching spring. Plum blossoms begin blooming in February, and are thankfully longer lasting than sakura.

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  • Theatre
  • Theatre & Performance

Digital art collective teamLab is branching out from its immersive exhibitions with its scenographic debut in a new production of Giacomo Puccini's opera Turandot. Devised by American theatre director and choreographer Daniel Kramer, the modern interpretation of the classical opera premiered in Geneva in 2022 and is set to be performed with a local cast in Tokyo from February 23 to 26. You can learn more about the upcoming production here.

  • Theatre
  • Theatre & Performance

The circus is coming to town! It’s been five years since Cirque du Soleil’s last show in Tokyo, so we’re thrilled that the Canadian company’s world-class acrobats and performing artists are coming back to Japan in early February. For this upcoming season, Cirque du Soleil will be putting on a revived version of Alegría – one of the company’s most popular shows that has toured over 255 times since it was first performed in 1994. Alegría: In a New Light will open in Odaiba, Tokyo on February 12 and run through June 4. You can read more about the show and how to get tickets here.

More winter fun

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