Not exactly Christmas decorations, not quite a light show, the end of each year means Illumination season in Japan. In popular neighborhoods, parks and event centers, carefully crafted and designed light tapestries adorn walkways, buildings fronts and hang from ceilings. We have gathered a handful of recommended Illumination spots in Tokyo to provide a taste of the festivities this year! Stop by after work, or on the weekends with family, friends, and loved ones to enjoy the lights together.
1. Marunouchi Illuminations
November 8th 2018～February 17th 2019
Simple and elegant, the Marunouchi Illuminations after nightfall are one of the more low-key creations in the city. The tall trees lining the streets of Marunouchi have been laced with simple warm white twinkle lights. Have dinner in any of the large department stores in the area and enjoy a stroll up and down the stone-laid roads, which are closed to cars during peak dinner times. After work hours, you might even see couples using the well-lit spot as a backdrop for their engagement photos!
2. Nakameguro: Minna No Illumination and Nakameguro Christmas
November 22nd～December 26th 2018, 9:00～22:00
Perhaps the most popular spot for viewing cherry blossoms in the spring, Nakameguro is also home to two popular Illuminations this winter. The first, Minna no Illumination, which translates roughly to The Illumination For Everyone, pays tribute to the cherry blossoms of spring, with the trees lining the Meguro river draped in pink lights. The Nakameguro Christmas Illuminations will this year be composed of white lights running from the Atlas Tower to GT Tower with music events taking place on December 15th and 16th.
3. Roppongi Mid-Town 2018
November 30th～December 31st 2018, 17:00～22:00
Roppongi embodies the word oshare (おしゃれ) meaning trendy, fashionable, chic. Accordingly, the illuminations that appear in Roppongi are always on point with their themes and color schemes, often adding some clever twist to their construction. This year, the Illumination has several sections, but the main area is the Starlight Garden, a field of blue lights reminiscent of a twinkling night sky. Walk the perimeter of the park to witness the trees draped in dazzling white and light blue lights.
4. Shibuya Ao no Dokutsu (The Blue Cave Shibuya)
November 30th～December 31st 17:00～22:00
In what is already turning out to be one of the most popular Illuminations of the year, The Blue Cave in Shibuya is an other-wordly walk between the Shibuya and Yoyogi Park area. With a chrystal blue lightscape that runs over a reflective mirror of a river, the Illumination is nearly as enveloping as the Kusama Yayoi’s mirror rooms and is already appearing all over social media.
5. Shinjuku Terrace City Illumination
The perfect way to end an evening of shopping the malls dotting Shinjuku’s West Exit is by taking a stroll to see the Shinjuku Terrace City Illumination. The lights are spread out across the My Lord and Odakyu shopping areas in addition to Mosaic Hill. This year, the official concept is ‘Be Connected’ and a flower motif is employed throughout, with snow white Christmas trees adorned with blossoms, enormous glowing pastel flowers, and the overheard of the Mosaic Saka walkway dripping with purple bulbs in clusters like lilacs.
Tell us about your favorite Illuminations around Japan in the comments!