It’s the most wonderful time of the year… Not really when you are 8,878 kilometers away from home 🙁 .
In the culture I grew up, Christmas is a family holiday, a special day when you enjoy spending time with your dear ones, feel the warmth of home, sing Christmas carols, go to church, eat good food (not KFC…) and so on. It seems I took spending Christmas at home for granted during all these years and now when I am so far away, I really started to long for that wonderful Christmas at home. I was so tempted to get a last-minute flight ticket back home but…
Christmas in Tokyo can be magical as well from another point of view. Here it is more of an event for couples, usually spent going to an “Illumination” spot and having a nice dinner together. In Japan, each city, region, amusement park, compete in showing the best “Illumination” or Christmas lights. In Tokyo, there are a lot of beautiful places and some change their lights and themes from year to year. Here you can see the spots I have visited two years ago. This year I tried to go to the ones I missed last time, so here are my favorite illumination spots and other places highlights for this year!
1. Caretta Shiodome カレッタ汐留
Caretta Shiodome is a shopping and dining center located in the Shiodome area, Minato-ku. Every year, Caretta Shiodome features one of the best winter illumination spots in Tokyo. In 2017, the theme is inspired by Disney’s “Beauty and the Beast”, a show of lights and music recreates the atmosphere of the film. It will definitely make you feel like being part of a fairytale. It will be up until Valentine’s Day next year, so don’t miss it if you are planning to visit Tokyo! I think it was my favorite spot for this year so I truly recommend it!
2. Marunouchi Naka-dori 丸の内仲通り
Close to Tokyo station, Marunouchi Naka-dori features a whole street of trees decorated with champagne-colored light bulbs. Luxury stores and stylish restaurants are also lined along this street which makes for a perfect place to go shopping for Christmas presents while also enjoying the beautiful lights. Kitte shopping center’s colorful Christmas tree is also not to be missed.
3. Tokyo DisneySea 東京ディズニーシー
What better time to visit Disney theme parks if not before Christmas? Of course, Disney is always a good idea for a fun day and their seasonal parades and shows are of an exceptional level but for Christmas, it gets even better. I have already been to Tokyo Disneyland last time I was in Japan so this time I chose Tokyo DisneySea, which is unique to Tokyo.
Tokyo DisneySea has a nautical theme attached to it, there is the Mediterranean Harbor featuring a little Venice atmosphere with gondolas and gondoliers singing and greeting visitors in Italian (Buon natale!), the Mysterious Island with a giant volcano at the middle of it, the Mermaid Lagoon, home to characters of The Little Mermaid, Arabian Coast inspired by Aladdin, Lost River Delta with an aztec theme featuring Indiana Jones attractions, Port Discovery and American Waterfront with the popular attraction (which was also definitely my favorite, ohh the thrill), Tower of Terror! I loved Tokyo DisneySea! It was just like a trip around the world, could experience so many different atmospheres, from Arabian to European and American. And the Christmas Parade and fireworks were amazing as well. Relived moments of my childhood in a day well spent in Tokyo, hehe. From Minnie, with love.
4. Ebisu Garden Place 恵比寿ガーデンプレイス
And the most romantic place I went to for Christmas this year was Ebisu Garden Place! Going there on a Saturday right before Christmas might not have been the best idea because it was very crowded but I’m happy I could go. The highlight of this place is the huge Christmas tree, so beautifully decorated, and there is also a small Christmas market right next to it.
Ebisu is an area featuring a nice range of restaurants, especially nice French, Italian restaurants and fashionable cafes. We chose an Italian restaurant for a nice dinner over the overrated KFC, a weird tradition for Christmas in Japan. They had a nice Christmas course which was a bit like what I would have for Christmas in Romania (cheese, steak with mashed potatoes, Christmas sponge cake), except pizza, but it became kind of like a tradition for me to have pizza for Christmas while in Japan, haha. The restaurant was called Vacanza, and they have the authentic pizza napoletana certificate, you can check it here if you are looking for authentic Italian food in Tokyo.
Overall, although I miss my family and it was a bit tough being away from home for Christmas, I enjoyed a nice Christmas in Japan. I visited the places above during the Christmas week and for Christmas I went to a nice onsen town in Gunma prefecture. More about that in my next blog post so stay tuned for it!
Thanks for reading 🙂