Tokyo's finest light-up shows
As is customary, the Shinjuku Terrace illumination takes place around the Southern Terrace and the Odakyu Group-controlled area that reaches toward the West Exit. 2018's theme is 'Be Connected!', with trees around the terrace area decorated with pretty lights with flower motifs. We're not quite sure where the 'be connected' bit comes in, but it's the thought that counts. Partially visible from Yamanote line trains, this one always gets our spirits up around the holidays.
Marunouchi Naka-dori, always one of the most popular Tokyo illumination spots, will be lit up with countless champagne-coloured, extra-low energy LED bulbs this year too, making for a display that's as environmentally friendly as it is stylish. Just strolling down the glittering street, which is lined with fancy boutiques and cafés, makes for a nice post-dinner date option.
An annual wintertime display at Yebisu Garden Place, this one incorporates a Baccarat chandelier that's 5m tall and 3m wide – making it one of the largest chandeliers in the world – and decorated with 250 lights, 230 of which symbolise the number of years from the company’s establishment to the construction of the chandelier in 1994. In total – including lesser displays in areas such as the Entrance Pavilion, Clock Plaza, Promenade, Center Plaza and Glass Square – the venue makes use of almost 100,000 lights. The festivities are kicked off with a lighting ceremony on November 3.
Yomiuri Land's annual winter illumination show tends to bedazzle even the most ardent illumination-fiend. As the name might give away, jewels are the focus here: literally millions of colourful LEDs are set up throughout the vast area, which is split into eight areas, while visitors can also expect to be treated to a 25-metre tall dazzling mountain inspired by the Matterhorn and lit-up roller coasters. If you're looking for the most OTT illumination experience in Tokyo, this should be it.
The Oi Racecourse, aka the Tokyo City Keiba, is hopping on the illumination bandwagon with this new event, with the nighttime races set to be lit up. What's more, there will be a whopping eight million lights, making it the biggest illumination in the Kanto area. Making a detour to the racecourse has never been more worthwhile.
This Shiodome shopping complex always puts a lot of work into its Christmas light-ups, and this year is no exception: for this year, the Caretta Illumination will have a 'Princess Story' theme inspired by Disney and Pixar films like 'Tangled' and 'Frozen'. It's blatantly commercial, sure, but still worth a quick look on a dark winter evening. Just like last year, the illumination display will stay up until Valentine's Day. Also, from November 21st, as they'll have a special light up dedicated to 'The Incredibles' at 5pm each day.
One of the top illumination events in Tokyo in terms of scale, and boasting hundreds of thousands of LEDs strung all around the complex, Tokyo Dome City’s light-up has an ‘Edo Elegance Japanese Beauty’ theme this winter inspired by traditional Japanese crafts. You can also look forward to Edo Kiriko transformed into a kaleidoscope, glowing origami cranes and other quirky contraptions, while the restaurants and cafés around the facility offer special candy-themed menus.
The rooftop garden at Tokyu Plaza Omotesando assumes a Christmasy character from mid-November, when 16,000 lightbulbs start giving off a warm, orange-tinged light. Wear your warm jacket, grab a bento and try a wintertime picnic under the pretty LEDs.
The risquely named Sagamiko Resort Pleasure Forest will be again be pulling out all the stops for its winter illumination show: the Illumillion supposedly uses the largest amount of lights in the entire Kanto region (around six million LEDs). The production has once again been renewed and features a wide range of colours, accompanying music, and light constructions that take advantage of the fountains and lush greenery of the park. Visitors can also use the amusement park rides (including the ferris wheel) at night, so take advantage of this opportunity to enjoy the sparkling forest scenery from a different viewpoint.
More winter highlights
What to see from December until March: enjoy conceptual and surrealist art, mythical scroll paintings, Chinese calligraphy and much, much more
Lace up your skates and glide around the capital's frosty selection of indoor and outdoor ice rinks