A very Marunouchi Christmas
Christmas time is officially here; and if you live in Tokyo, it’s been here since Halloween wrapped up. I, being a stubborn fan of the American food-based holiday Thanksgiving, waited until I awoke from a turkey coma (courtesy of Harrys Sandwich Co) to celebrate the most wonderful time of the year.
Christmas in Japan is primarily a commercial holiday, as most people do not observe it as a religious day (there are not many Christians in Japan). Instead of getting together with family around the Christmas tree, Japanese people go on romantic dates, go out with friends to karaoke, visit illuminations and enjoy the traditional Christmas meal of Kentucky Fried Chicken and Christmas cake (fluffy strawberry shortcake is a popular choice).
If you’d like to get in the Tokyo Christmas spirit, look no further than Tokyo station! The area around the station is lit up at night and the trees around the Marunouchi area are covered in beautiful lights. Thanks to this year’s late summer, many trees still have their yellow and red Autumn leaves, making for an even more colorful display.
Below are a few stops around the area to enjoy during a winter walk around Tokyo station and the Marunouchi area.
If you’re staring from Tokyo station, exit the station from the JR Maranochi exit, North or South, through the European style domes. The front façade of the station is illuminated at night, and with the surrounding skyscrapers it makes a spectacular cityscape.
The Marunouchi Building
Every year the lobby of this building has a large, illuminated metal tree. The official name of the event is “Marunouchi Bright Christmas 2019 -Precious for you-”, staring this tree “RISE CRYSTAL-A Magical Christmas Object Rising toward the Galaxy-”, which are great titles/descriptions that sum up Christmas in Japan.
Throughout the day there are performances set to music, and this year the tree is promoting “Star Wars”. Nothing says Christmas like a metal tree flashing lights to a John Williams score!
Unfortunately, the music medley did not include the “Imperial March”.
If this kind of cheesy holiday promotion is your thing, you can check out the other buildings that have displays across the Marunouchi area- including the Shinmaru Building, Marunouchi Oazo, Kokusai Building and some outdoor locations. For hard core Star Wars fans, there’s also a theme café and a few pop-up shops.
Marunouchi Nakadori Illumination
This avenue with wide sidewalks is nice to walk around on a normal day, but it becomes especially enjoyable with the trees illuminated at night. The avenue is home to a number of fancy brand shops, and there are often luxury cars parked along the street. Walking up and down the avenue allows you a glamourous experience on an Eikaiwa budget!
After perusing the illuminated avenue, cross the street over to the KITTE building to warm up with a hot chocolate from Mary’s café. Go ahead and get the special almond chocolate drink (with or without alcohol), you deserve it. Get it to go and sit under the illuminated dangling Christmas tree made of intricately tied knots. Like many of the illuminations around the city, this one also has the occasional musical performance.
If you need a longer break from the cold, there are plenty of lovely cafes and restaurants in the area, but most of them are inside of the large skyscraper complexes, so keep an eye out for the food listings near the entrances in each building.
The illumination lights will be up until mid February. Enjoy exploring the Marunouchi illumination!