Marunouchi Illumination
Photo: Marunouchi Illumination

19 incredible illuminations and light displays in Tokyo

Enjoy the city at its most sparkly – when Tokyo switches on its festive lights and illuminations in winter

Youka Nagase
Tabea Greuner
Written by
Youka Nagase
&
Tabea Greuner
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The days may be getting shorter and colder, but even so, Tokyo doesn't turn into a dark and desolate place at this time of year. In fact, from autumn to winter in the city, millions of colourful LED lights are displayed in trees as well as on and around buildings, turning Tokyo into a sparkling wonderland. Illuminations, as they’re usually known here, are big in Japan, but Tokyo’s are bigger and better than anywhere else.

We've listed our top picks of where to admire these light displays, which are, of course, best enjoyed in good company. So layer up, grab your scarf and head out to see Tokyo at its brightest and festive best. It’s gonna be lit.

RECOMMENDED: The best illuminations and light displays in Japan

Tokyo's finest light shows

  • Attractions
  • Theme parks
  • Tama area

If you’re looking for the most OTT illumination in Tokyo, this is it. Yomiuri Land's annual winter light show will bedazzle even the most ardent illumination-fiend. As the name might suggest, jewels are the focus here: literally millions of colourful LEDs are set up throughout the vast theme park evoking sparkling gems. The park is split into ten areas where visitors can expect to be treated to beautifully lit attractions.

In addition to the rainbow-lit, 180m-long Spring Promenade and Diamond Passage, this year features a 15m-tall fountain. The fountain show sees water lit in different colours sprayed into the air to create stunning shapes. Look out for the fountain’s flames and lasers, which are synchronised with the music. The impressive illumination was produced by world-class lighting designer Motoko Ishii, who has worked on past light displays at the theme park.

  • Things to do
  • Tama-Center

Until February 28, Tama city centre in western Tokyo is bathed in Christmas lights after dark. With real trees from Nagano prefecture all decked out in LED lights, the city’s central Parthenon Boulevard has become a nighttime attraction. What’s more, an Aquarium of Lights has also been set up; the 50m-long tunnel of lights is decorated with light fixtures in the shape of fish and other sea creatures.

Don’t miss the luminescent blue Christmas tree at the end of the road, which will be on display from November 3 until Christmas Day.

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  • Things to do
  • Shibuya

Shibuya Stream’s first winter illumination event features a sound-and-light show called Piece of Prism. You’ll find a number of colourful prism-shaped objects set up on the mall’s large staircase. When looking at the staircase from the front, the different pieces appear to be one large monument. The show runs every 30 minutes from 4.30pm daily.

You’ll also find plenty of prism-shaped objects hanging from the ceilings of the shopping centre’s second and third floors. If you head to the Shibuya Stream website on your phone, you can tap to select different words on the screen, which will cause the hanging prisms to change colour and make special sound effects.

On the 400m-long stretch between Shibuya Stream’s Inari and Namiki bridges, you’ll find more beautiful illuminations featuring over 25,000 LED lights, while the Inari Bridge Square on the first floor is home to a large Christmas tree decorated with LED lights and ornaments.

  • Things to do
  • Chiba

Quaint theme park Tokyo German Village is celebrating winter with an elaborate candy-themed illumination filled with 3,000,000 lights. After you’ve toured the fields decorated with lights shaped like lollipops, ice cream and cookies, stick around for the 15-minute light and sound show, which features rainbow lights that sync with music and bubbles that smell like candy. 

Just outside the candyland area, you’ll spot colourful paper lanterns in all shapes and sizes. There are ten areas, with impressive lantern displays, including a garden with palm trees and flowers, a flock of flamingos by the water, a life-size pirate ship and even a massive T-rex head with its mouth wide open. 

Don’t forget to check out the illumination made in collaboration with Nakayama Racecourse too, which will be on show until February 5. It’ll also feature plenty of sweets, as well as an elaborate light show incorporating smoke and lasers.

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  • Things to do
  • Kanagawa

Located next to Tokyo amusement park Yomiuri Land, Hana Biyori garden is lighting up with a spectacular illumination display until April 3 2022. Follow the path lined with 500 takeakari bamboo lanterns and you’ll come to a historical gate that was transplanted from the Kyoto Imperial Palace.

The approach features a spellbinding light installation using takemari, round ball-like objects made from bamboo. Encased within each of these hanging lanterns is a flower bouquet that resembles the famous ‘flower chandeliers’ of the on-site greenhouse. Continue on and you’ll find colourful illuminated Japanese umbrellas along the path, along with an additional 500 small bamboo lanterns.

While you’re there, make sure to check out the spectacular Jewellumination at Yomiuri Land, too.

  • Things to do

Tokyo Skytree and its surroundings go into Christmas mode from November, with the pathways between the tower and Oshiage and Tokyo Skytree stations decorated with around 400,000 lights. Throughout the event, Tokyo Skytree will be lit up in green and champagne gold to represent a Christmas tree, as well as white and red to resemble a lit candle.

There will also be an 8m-tall Christmas tree in the fourth-floor Sky Arena that’s beautifully lit with sparkling lights, plus a full ice-skating rink.

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  • Things to do
  • Akasaka

Get your camera ready as you walk through Nakadori Street at Akasaka Sacas. It’s equipped with a number of illumination displays featuring LED lights which are capable of creating 16.7 million colours.

The lights are synchronised to seasonal music, and you can look forward to a polar bear-shaped installation that’s over two metres tall, an illuminated mini version of Tokyo Tower, plus a heart-shaped frame that’s perfect for romantic photos. You can also change the colour of the heart by stepping on a pedal. On the second floor, you’ll also find a large Christmas tree and another photo spot in the shape of a huge gift box. 

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  • Suidobashi

This is one of Tokyo’s glitziest illumination events, boasting a giant Christmas tree with 230,000 colourful LED lights, and a specially lit photo spot with decorations made from recycled materials.

The surrounding areas in Tokyo Dome City will be similarly well lit, including the LaQua area with a ‘milky way’ light tunnel that stretches for 140m with pink and orange kaleidoscope-like illumination, and the Meet Port Garden, which is lit with champagne gold lights.

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  • Things to do
  • Tokorozawa

Saitama’s new pop culture-focussed shopping mall, hotel and museum is celebrating its one-year anniversary with beautiful illuminations until February 2022. From November 6, the area surrounding the centre’s 12m-tall koyamaki (Japanese umbrella pine) tree will be lit with LED lights and projectors, and the exterior of the building will be illuminated with a gradient of colours that will change from autumn to winter.

Other areas, including the Kadokawa Culture Museum, will also have their own illuminations installed from December 10. And while you’re in the area, don’t forget to visit the permanent outdoor teamLab exhibit in Higashi Tokorozawa Park, right beside Sakura Town.

  • Things to do
  • Marunouchi

The 1.2-km long Marunouchi Naka-dori street, always one of the most popular Tokyo illumination spots, will be lit up with countless champagne-coloured, low-energy LED bulbs this year, making for a display that's as environmentally friendly as it is stylish. The newly opened Tokyo Torch Park will also be lit up, and you can marvel at the beautiful scenery from the benches on Tokyo Torch Terrace.

The lights will be on from 3pm every day, which is two hours earlier than usual, meaning you’ll have more time to stroll down the glittering streets, lined with fancy boutiques and cafés, making for a nice pre- or post-dinner date option. 

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  • Things to do
  • Yokohama Station area

This winter, the 1.5km-long area right outside the east exit of JR Yokohama Station turns into a sparkling wonderland. This illumination display uses over half a million LEDs to bathe the area in warm white, blue and champagne-gold light from 4pm to 11pm every day. The trees all get a lot more festive and the Hamamirai Walk pedestrian bridge becomes a beautifully lit walkway. This year, the lights will be powered by sustainable energy using solar and wind power.

  • Things to do
  • Futako-Tamagawa

For a more traditional Christmas-themed illumination, head to Futako-Tamagawa’s Rise shopping mall, conveniently connected to the station. This year, the Christmas tree on display is based on The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle, decorated with Christmas baubles and ornaments that look like apples, oranges and pears from the storybook. If you look closely, you’ll spot the caterpillar himself hiding among the fruit. Make sure to take a closer look at the trees placed within the entire shopping mall which are decorated with shimmering lights and giant fruit, too.

The Christmas tree is on display until December 25, however, the illuminations around the shopping mall run until March 8 2022, including a large staircase with special patterned lighting effects. There’s also an ice skating rink decked out in animal illustrations by Carle, which will open from December 11 2021 to March 6 2022.

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  • Things to do
  • Sagamiko

The risquély named Sagamiko Resort Pleasure Forest will once again be pulling out all the stops for its winter illumination show. Sagamiko Illumillion claims to be using the largest number of lights in the entire Kanto region (over six million LEDs).

This year, there’s an entire area dedicated to Sailor Moon. Hop on the park’s Rainbow Chairlift and sail over colourful stripes that symbolise each character. Below the park’s Ferris wheel, you’ll spot a 4m-wide replica of the silver crystal from the series. It’s shaped like a blooming flower and can turn blue, purple and gold. If that’s not enough for you, don’t miss the Crystal Tokyo area at the very end of the park, which has numerous giant illuminated crystals that light up to the beat of the music.

You’ll find plenty more light shows taking advantage of the fountains and lush greenery of the park. You can also hop on the amusement park rides (including that Ferris wheel) at night to enjoy the sparkling forest scenery from a different angle.

  • Things to do
  • Oimachi

In its fourth run this year, the Oi Racecourse, aka the Tokyo City Keiba, will be bathed in colourful lights every evening in collaboration with Naked Big Book. Look forward to elaborate illuminations and projection mapping displays that take you through a storybook following the journey of a white horse.

There’s a water fountain show synchronised to music, stunning aurora lights, a 100-metre tunnel covered in lights, luminescent blue projection mapping of waterfalls and more. Plus, a new AR experience where you can see a 3D horse via with your smartphone. You can even pet and take photos with some of the real horses at the track.

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  • Things to do
  • Shibuya

Located at the beginning (or end) of Harajuku’s famous Cat Street, Shibuya Cast celebrates its fifth winter event this year. You’ll find illuminations set up in front of the building, near benches and in other places around its garden area. Make sure to visit the beautifully lit Christmas tree outside the building. The light-up starts at 4pm daily and runs until January 30.

Don’t miss the Garage Sale on December 18 and 19 (12noon-6pm), where shops from the nearby Cat Street sell selected items at Shibuya Cast Garden. There’s also a Christmas concert by singer-songwriter Laura Yokozawa on December 19 from 1pm, 2pm and 3pm.

Between December 22 and 24, kids can join a shadow puppet workshop, while parents can browse a selection of secondhand kids’ clothes at the on-site ‘share market’.

On December 25 and 26 (1pm-7pm), on the other hand, you can drop by the Shibuya Designer’s Market. Here, you can shop for items produced by illustrator Mameko Maeda, graphic designer Yutaro Mineyama, illustrator and graphic designer Taro Hashimoto and others.

  • Things to do
  • Yokohama Station area

Not to be outdone by the Yokohama Milaight display taking over Yokohama Station’s east exit, shops around the west exit are putting on an illumination of their own. This year is the event’s 38th edition and it will feature colourful auroras and butterflies displayed on massive LED screens on the side of the station building. Check out the motifs as they put on a festive dance in a light-and-sound show every 15 minutes.

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  • Things to do
  • Odaiba

Before Odaiba shopping mall VenusFort permanently closes in spring 2022, the venue will host a number of campaigns in the lead-up to its last business day on March 27. 

Don’t miss its last illumination event, Thankful Carnival, with a number of installations set up throughout the facility. You’ll find a 7m-tall illuminated reindeer at Palette Plaza, another large elk-shaped installation at South Avenue, a Christmas bauble-shaped installation at Olive Plaza and other stunning spots with larger-than-life displays that are perfect for taking plenty of photos.

The highlight, however, is a short show taking place at Fountain Plaza on the second floor. The space is decorated with illuminations and red and gold drapes resembling a circus ring. The three-minute carnival show takes place every 30 minutes. 

  • Things to do
  • Hibiya

Beautiful purple, pink and orange lights are taking over Hibiya this winter from November 18 to February 14. The trees along Hibiya Naka-dori Street are adorned with romantic lights, illuminating the shops and restaurants nearby. The stairs at Hibiya Step Plaza will also be lit up, and have several Christmas trees set up to get you in the holiday spirit. Head up to the Park View Garden on the sixth floor of Tokyo Midtown Hibiya to see the garden lit up too, and while you’re here, make sure to take in the spectacular view of Tokyo from up high.

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  • Museums
  • Saitama

Tobu Zoo shakes things up for winter this year with its annual illumination show at the park’s Heartful Garden. The display is synchronised to music, uses computer graphics and features about three million LEDs. Don’t miss the aurora lights in the same area.

The 8,000sqm Heartful Garden itself is decked out with lit-up installations of zoo animals along with other sparkling illuminations. In addition, the popular Sakura Illumination is making a comeback, so be sure to walk around the park’s Swan Pond before you leave. 

More things to do in winter

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