Tokyo’s Top 15 Winter Illuminations For 2018
The Best Places To See The City Lights This Season
Tokyo shines bright this winter.
One of the highlights of the winter season in Japan, these free festivals of light provide a welcome chance to get out in the evenings as the temperature dips and rejuvenate the spirits during the cold, dark winter months — not to mention take a few selfies. This year, once again, we see stunning, bright illuminations in all shapes and forms light up every part of Tokyo in preparation for the festive season. So whether alone, with a partner or with family and friends, we promise you that these lights will make your holiday a little more special, joyful and warm. Here are our 15 top picks for this year.
The areas around the popular shopping complex Tokyo Midtown light up each night, gathering tens of thousands of visitors and enthusiastic photographers. Though the whole complex shines brightly during the festive season, the one must-stop place is the space-inspired Starlight Garden illumination in the park behind the main tower. Some 500,000 LED lights are spread before your eyes forming the most breathtaking space lights in the heart of the city. This year, for a limited time until December 16, a special collaboration with soap bubbles lets visitors enjoy around 450,000 soap bubbles and mist daily, floating through the night’s sky. Catch them before it’s too late!
Access: Roppongi Station
Date & Time: Now through Dec 25, 2018, 5 p.m.-11 p.m.
Themed “Princess Illumination,” this popular winter lights display surrounding the shopping complex Caretta Shiodome, brings the story of Disney’s most beloved princesses to life this year. Whether a Disney fan or not, this is one of the most beautiful and romantic illuminations in the city, and this year especially, it calls for all couples to gather around the lights, accompanied by soundtrack tunes and other love-inspired vibes. Recommended for anyone, but if you don’t have a significant other you may feel a bit lonely.
Access: Shiodome and Shimbashi stations
Date & Time: Until Feb 14, 2019, 5 p.m.-11 p.m.
This annual light-up event at the historic Yebisu Garden Place has a stylish vibe based on simplicity and class. Baccarat Eternal Lights features an 8-meter spectacular chandelier and beautifully decorated trees amongst its numerous illuminations and is, with no doubt, one the most romantic outings for mature couples.
Access: Ebisu Station
Date & Time: Until Feb 28, 2019, 5 p.m.-9 p.m.
Business town at daytime, as soon as dawn hits Shinjuku the area changes into a stage of multiple illumination displays that will take your breath away. This year’s concept is “Be connected!” and the entire area around JR Shinjuku Station is decorated with gentle, pink lights that will make you feel more positive — and inspired to share with someone!
Access: Shinjuku Station, South exit
Date & Time: Until Feb 14, 2019, 5 p.m.-12 a.m.
The flagship Tokyu Plaza Omotesando-Harajuku complex—thus the “Omohara”—with its wall-of-mirrors entrance and green, rooftop park “Omohara no Mori” will once again add to the area’s brightness with a nostalgic illumination that goes back to the basics and does it better than anywhere else. Grab a cup of coffee from the store’s rooftop Starbucks and enjoy the lights!
Access: Meijijingumae Station
Date & Time: Now through Feb 28, 2019, 5 p.m. to 11 p.m.
The area around the massive complex Roppongi Hills is festooned with light, including the parade of trees down Keyakizaka-dori, the romantically lit-up Mohri Garden (don’t miss out on the heart-shaped illumination) and the giant Christmas tree at Roku-Roku Plaza, the doorway of the complex. Wherever you go in Roppongi this season, you will be surrounded by light!
Access: Roppongi Station
Date & Time: Until Dec 25, 2018, 5 p.m.-11 p.m.
7. Omotesando Illuminations
Commonly referred to as Tokyo’s “Champs-Elysees,” Omotesando — the broad, tree-lined avenue and one of the symbols of Tokyo’s high fashion and style — is lit-up magnificently this year as well with some 900,000 lights in champagne gold colors. The stylish Omotesando Hills complex in the area also runs its own spectacular illumination — an Aurora-inspired Christmas tree and a massive “curtain of light” created by 6,000 icicles. Whether taking a stroll down the streets or shopping at the Hills, Omotesando is a spot that gives you a truly festive vibe throughout the winter season.
Access: Harajuku Station, Omotesando Station, Meijijingumae Station
Date & Time: Until Jan 6, 2019, after dark
8. Odaiba Illuminations
With Rainbow Bridge, the giant Daiba Wheel and endless harbor lights, Odaiba is in itself a year-round unique and breath-taking illumination location, but don’t miss on the “Yakei” Illumination at Decks, one of Odaiba’s largest commercial facilities. The must-see spots include the 20-meter-high “Daiba Memorial Tree,” the heart-shaped statue, which allows you to take a rare triple-shot of Tokyo’s city lights, Rainbow Bridge and the “Illusion Dome.”
Access: Daiba Station
Date & Time: Year-round, after dark
Embrace the warmth of the season at Tokyo’s number one indisputable symbol, Tokyo Tower, and its ground-based illuminations. This year, in celebration of the Tower’s 60th anniversary, a giant 60-year-old natural Christmas tree is awaiting visitors at the foot town of the tower. The theme of the illuminations is (again) “Orange,” the symbolic color of the tower.
Access: Akabanebashi Station, Onarimon Station
Date & Time: Until Feb 28, 2019, 4 p.m.-10 p.m.
A spectacular cherry blossom site in spring, the Meguro River brights up the area equally gorgeously in winter too, using 500,000 LED lights used in the display around the river. This year, the river is lit-up with two different colored illuminations, orange-gold and snowy white. The river-side walk makes up for one of the most romantic experiences this season.
Access: Nakameguro Station
Date & Time: Until Dec 25, 2018, 4 p.m.-9 p.m.
One of the largest illuminations sites in Tokyo, the Tokyo Dome Illuminations are spread throughout the entire dome area, including magnificent tunnels of lights, decorated Christmas trees and a mini-Tokyo Dome right in front of La Qua shopping center. This year’s theme is “Edo elegance ～Japanese beauty,” with one of the main must-see spots including the Edo Kiriko gate near the main entrance, which changes its display like a kaleidoscope depending on people’s movements. If you have to choose one spot for your winter illuminations journey, let this be the one!
Access: Tokyo Dome (Korakuen Station, Suidobashi Station)
Date & Time: Until Feb 17, 2019, 4 p.m.-12 a.m.
Despite being blue, blue and nothing but blue, this illumination (ranked No.1 in Tokyo, by the way!) can never make you sad — take our word for it. Sponsored by the famous pasta sauce maker Ao No Dokutsu (Blue Cavern), the Koen-dori street leading toward Yoyogi Park are lit-up by 600,000 blue LED lights creating a spectacular monotone glow.
Access: Shibuya Station and Yoyogi Park
Date & Time: Until Dec 31, 2018, 5 p.m.-10 p.m.
13. Marunouchi Illuminations
Marunouchi Naka-Dori is one of the most popular illumination sites in Tokyo. This year, you can admire the glittery trees covered in light-emitting bulbs while walking around the stylish street full of small shops and cafes. A classy display of light, this one can even make you a bit nostalgic.
Access: Marunouchi Naka-dori Street (Tokyo Station)
Date & Time: Until Feb 17, 2019, 5:30 p.m.-11 p.m.
This winter, one of the largest and most beautiful Tokyo parks, the Showa Memorial Park, is displaying a special illumination themed “Hanabi” (fireworks). Though the entire park will be lit up in splendid lights, we (strongly) recommend a stop by at the fascinating Christmas tree built from thousands of champagne glasses at the center of the park. You can also enjoy fireworks and candle towers during the special illumination period. Take the whole family there for an unforgettable experience of lights, luxury and festivity!
Access: Tachikawa Station
Date & Time: Until Dec 25, 2018, 5 p.m.-9 p.m.
Once in a while, there comes an event, so massive and so inspiring, like a big bang from the sky, that leaves you wondering where the heck it has been all this time. Tokyo Mega Illumi, held for the very first time this year, is an event like this. Occupying one of Tokyo’s most famous horse race fields, Tokyo City Keiba in Oimachi, this massive land is decorated with eight million lights, each organized in different themes focusing on Japan’s history, culture and evolution. If you enjoy an occasional time travel that takes you through some of Japan’s most peaceful and turbulent time periods, this is your spot this winter. It’s spectacular!
Access: Oimachi Station (Tokyo City Keiba)
Date & Time: Until March 31, 2019 (On Weekends only in December and Dec. 23, 24 and 28), 6 p.m.-10 p.m. (Weekends) and 5 p.m.-10 p.m. (Weekdays)
For a list of illuminations in other prefectures in Japan, see this article.
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