Christmas in Tokyo – Your Complete Guide
Spending Christmas in Tokyo? Let us be your guide to everything festive! We've got advice on how to prepare, where to shop, where to eat, markets, illuminations and much more!
Japan doesn’t really do Christmas; it’s literally not a holiday here and more of a couples’ occasion. A typical Christmas in Japan involves strolling through a Christmas market and taking in the illuminations and then wrapping the day up with a chicken dinner with your significant other.
In Tokyo for Christmas and don’t know what to do? With our guide, you’ll be filled with Christmas spirit in no time at all.
December Weather in Tokyo
|Average (°F)||Highest (°F)||Lowest (°F)||Rainfall Days||Precipitation (mm)||Daily Sunshine Hours|
If you’re looking for snowfall during Christmas, then Tokyo isn’t for you. With temperatures rarely dropping below freezing, it hardly ever snows here. That being said, dress warmly because temperatures can still get very cold. Layers are the name of the game. Undershirts made from polyester, such as Under Armour, are ideal for proper insulation. For the ill-prepared, popular Japanese brand UNIQLO sells a great alternative called HEATTECH at a reasonable price.
Preparing for Christmas
For expats who’ve just moved here, shopping for gifts, decorating the household and preparing Christmas dinner can be tough. We’ve compiled a list of stores to help ease you into your first Christmas.
Don’t let the name of this store fool you. Located in Harajuku, this famous five-story toy store is a big hit with children and adults alike. Kiddy Land is stocked full of popular character-themed merchandise such as Star Wars and Hello Kitty.
Location: 6-1-9 Jingumae, Shibuya, Tokyo 150-0001
Toys R Us
Looking for toys? With more than 1,500 branches worldwide, you can’t get wrong with American toy store chain Toys R Us.
Hakuhinkan Toy Park
Relive your childhood by heading to this four-story toy store. For just 200 yen, visitors get five minutes to play with a radio controlled car on a 36m track.
Location: 8-8-11 Ginza, Chuo, Tokyo 104-8132
On the outskirts of Tokyo find Costco, a well-loved wholesaler. Yes, it’s exactly the same as the ones in America, so it’s stocked full of everything – including festive decorations! The only caveat is that it’s quite a distance from the city centre.
Location: 1-4 Toyosuna, Mihama, Chiba 261-0024
100 Yen Shop – Daiso
Littered throughout Tokyo, Daiso is one of the largest 100 yen shop chains. Find here cheap Christmas decorations of all kinds.
For more information, check out 100 Yen Shop – A Guide to Discount Shopping in Japan.
Everyone’s favourite mega-discount chain store, Don Quijote has all your Christmas shopping needs covered at more than reasonable prices.
Home furnishing store Franfranc carries a wide variety of decorations from ornaments to snow globes. Their plastic Christmas trees are highly popular so be sure to get there early to buy one!
This major department store specialises in do-it-yourself project gear, although it stocks a whole lot more besides. Make your very own decorations and come here for supplies.
For Christmas trees…
40 minutes away from the city centre, IKEA’s Christmas trees range from 3′ to 4′. While not massively impressive, they’re only around 2,000 yen!
Nissin World Delicatessen
This international supermarket is popular amongst foreigners for its import goods. For the hefty price of more than 20,000 yen, you can get a full-size tree here.
National Azabu Supermarket
Another store that is popular amongst the expat community is National Azabu Supermarket. Find here 5′ to 8′ trees for no more than 30,000 yen.
Kinokuniya International stocks import goods such as Marmite but most importantly: whole Butterball turkeys!
The Meat Guy
Prefer to do all your shopping online? Then The Meat Guy is for you. They offer turkeys of various sizes and origins (e.g. USA and France) as well as many other premium meats, from USDA steaks to free range chickens.
Website: The Meat Guy’s Official Website
Lacking an oven? Fear not, Luca Deli is for you. In addition to catering numerous international schools, Luca Deli delivers whole roasted turkeys with sides to your front door step. Ignore the price, it’s worth it.
Website: Luca Deli’s Official Website
Additionally, turkey is available at most international supermarkets – including Meidi-Ya, Nissin World Delicatessen and National Azabu Supermarket.
The Foreign Buyers’ Club
The Foreign Buyers’ Club has been serving the expatriate community in Japan since 1989. Whatever it is that you’re missing from home, The Foreign Buyers’ Club has it. Find here turkey and Christmas decorations.
Traditional Christmas Meals
Popular amongst foreigners, Hobgoblin serves the finest English ales and come Christmas time a multi-course dinner that includes roasted turkey and all the yummy trimmings. Additionally, there’s also nomihodai (all-you-can-drink plan).
Good Honest Grub
Run by Chef Don Foley, this breakfast and brunch (only on the weekends) joint serves simple food made from ingredients from Foley’s very own farm. In addition to its Christmas course, Good Honest Grub also serves vegetarian courses comprised of spicy tofu and vegetables.
Location: 2-20-8 Higashi, Shibuya, Tokyo 150-0011
Chef Ian Philip Tozer’s Roti Roppongi has been in operation in the same location for over 10 years now. With a long history comes tradition. Available for lunch or dinner, this American-style grill has been serving its famous Christmas buffet for many years now. For more information, check out their menu.
Two Rooms Grill & Bar
Two Rooms Grill & Bar is a swanky bar and restaurant with gorgeous views over Tokyo’s skyline. The Christmas course here comes at a premium price (17,500 yen) but it does, in fairness, come with wagyu steak and a glass of champagne. Check out their menu.
The Terrace, Westin Hotel
The buffet at the Westin Hotel’s The Terrace is extremely popular, especially during the festive season. Find here Eastern and Western dishes like roasted turkey, sushi and dumplings. In addition to its delectable buffet, the lobby leading to the restaurant houses a staggering 5m Christmas tree. What a sight!
New York Grill, Park Hyatt Hotel
If the price isn’t an issue, then New York Grill is for you. Located on the 52nd floor of the Park Hyatt Hotel, the stunning view of the city coupled with the grill’s 22,000 yen five-course Christmas dinner – consisting of truffles and wagyu beef – make for a majestic night.
In addition to these restaurants, most luxury hotel restaurants – including Hotel New Otani’s – offer Christmas meals.
For a traditional Japanese Christmas meal…
Kentucky Fried Chicken
Due to the turkey’s lack of popularity and KFC’s 1974 “Kentucky for Christmas” advertising campaign, it’s now customary in Japan to eat chicken for Christmas. It’s also great if you’re on a tight budget since turkeys in Tokyo can fetch prices of 4,000 yen and upwards.
If lavish sit-down meals aren’t your thing then try out one of many German-style Christmas markets littered throughout the city. Find here German eats and hot drinks aplenty.
Roppongi Hills Christmas Market
Inspired by one of the largest markets in Germany, Roppongi Hills Christmas Market came to be in 2006. With each passing year, the market gets bigger and louder. Find here a festive concert playing all your favourite merry tunes and Christmas spirit by the bucket load. This market has it all, so what are you waiting for, head on over!
Solamachi Christmas Market
Come December, find under the towering Tokyo Skytree rows of quaint wooden stalls that make up the Solamachi Christmas Market. With the surrounding illuminations and a lit up Tokyo Skytree in the background, the atmosphere is perfect for a romantic date night.
Christmas Marché de Nöel
Located in Yebisu Garden Place, this Christmas market features the grand Baccarat Eternal Lights, a 5m by 3m chandelier. In addition to the pretty lights, browse thousands of Christmas knick-knacks.
Special Mention: Yokohama Red Brick Warehouse Christmas Market
Not in Tokyo, but Yokohama Red Brick Warehouse Christmas Market deserves a special shout out. Just an hour away from central Tokyo, this Christmas market sits by the Yokohama Bay and promises breathtaking views of its skyline. After checking out the market, why not head on over to the ice rink next door?
Midtown Christmas lights is multiple areas of illuminations spanning an area of 2km2. The star of the show is the “Starlight Garden”, a field of tens of thousands LED lights.
Location: 9-7-1 Akasaka, Minato, Tokyo 107-0052
Tokyo Dome City Winter Illumination
Tokyo Dome City is a large entertainment complex with several facilities including a baseball stadium and an amusement park. Come Christmas time, the entire complex is illuminated by a whopping 100,000+ LED lights!
Location: 1-3-61 Koraku, Bunkyo, Tokyo 112-0004
After marveling at an illuminated Tokyo Station, head on over to Marunouchi Naka-Dori Street where trees on both sides are covered by a million or so energy-saving bulbs. These yellow-orange lights go out at midnight making it perfect for a late night stroll.
Canyon d’Azur – Shiodome Caretta Illumination
Located on the basement floor of this shopping complex, this illuminations display has been going on for a little over a decade now, so you can expect the lights here to be of the highest standard. While strolling through, find yourself completely immersed in a six-minute audiovisual show which occurs every 20 minutes.
Roppongi Hills Artelligent Christmas
In addition to its Christmas market, Roppongi Hills pull out all the stops for its illuminations as well. This massive shopping complex and its surroundings are covered in a sea of lights. The entirety of Keyakidori Street is to be painted with a champagne hue by thousands of lights on trees to make it especially gorgeous.
Location: 6-11-1 Roppongi, Minato, Tokyo 106-6108
Special Mention: Tokyo German Village Winter Illumination
Neither in Tokyo nor Germany, this winter illuminations display is off the beaten path and hard to get to. Taking more than 2 hours from Tokyo Station, this event is definitely worth the hassle since it was deemed one of three major illuminations in Kanto. In addition to the pretty lights, Tokyo German Village is a large theme park made up of a Ferris wheel, kiddy zoo and much more. Come here for the perfect day trip!
Location: 419 Nagayoshi, Sodegauru, Chiba 299-0204
More Things to Do
Tokyo Disneyland and DisneySea
Self-proclaimed “happiest place on Earth”, both Tokyo Disneyland and DisneySea go all out over the festive season with each amusement park adding its own flavor and twist to the festivities. The parades and shows at both parks are awe-inspiring. See Mickey Mouse dancing on a float to Christmas tunes!
Location: 1-13 Maihama, Urayasu, Chiba 279-0031
White Sacas Toyotown Ice Garden, one of the largest outdoor ice rinks opens late November. Under pretty lights, find here couples blissfully skating together.
If you’re looking for Christmas church services, here’s a list of popular Tokyo churches with services conducted in English:
Since Japan doesn’t consider Christmas as a holiday, it’s business as usual in the most part. However, clubs will often have themed nights, so be on the lookout for major clubs like:
If you’re sticking around after Christmas, partake in the year-end sales hosted by the many department stores. These stores have what they call “lucky bags” (or “mystery bags”) where customers pay a specific amount for a bag containing an unknown item. Are you feeling lucky?
For more information, check out this website.
For more things to do in Tokyo during the festive season, check out our article (Tokyo in Winter – Things to Do in Tokyo in Winter).