As cold winds blow and sunlight lends a sparkle to the snow on Mount Fuji’s shoulders, things are starting to feel festive around the region. There is no shortage of things to do to celebrate the holiday season in Tokyo, so we’ve put together a list of a few favorites. Head on out and put some holiday pep in your step!
Yokohama’s Red Brick Warehouse Christmas Market
This German-style market takes place in the cobblestone plaza at historic Akarenga (Red Brick) Warehouse. A giant Christmas tree welcomes visitors to wander between the German-style Hütten (huts). They’ll be selling traditional Christmas fare including the German Christmas cake Stollen, hot Glühwein (mulled wine) and freshly grilled sausages. Keep an eye out for the wooden dolls from the Erzgebirge Region of Germany, famous for its finely crafted wooden toys, ornaments and figurines (including nutcrackers!) since the 1700s. An ice-skating rink is right next door.
Sat, Nov 26 through Sun, Dec 25. Open: 11am to 10pm (Tree Lighting 4pm–10pm) Bashamichi or Sakuragicho. bit.ly/2g1UDAL
Sekino Boroichi Market
Established in 1751, this market harkens back to a time when this area of western Tokyo was all farms feeding a growing city of Edo. Sekino Boroichi is a giant winter flea market where roughly 300 vendors selling everything from steaming cups of amazake to antique kimono can be found. Just outside the north exit of the station, this popular annual event attracts roughly 80,000 people over two days. It promises a fun and adventurous search for gifts. (If this one doesn’t fit to your calendar, then Boroichi Market II starts later in December and runs into January 2017. See the website for details.)
Fri, Dec 9 and Sat, Dec 10. Open 9am–10pm. Musashiseki. bit.ly/2foVw2H
Christmas Market at Institut Francais
Tucked along a small road not far from Iidabashi Station, Institut François is a hidden gem. Started over sixty years ago in order to further cultural exchange, the Institut brings a taste of French art, literature and music to Japan. It is no surprise then that it hosts a lively Christmas Market featuring all the ingredients for a holiday with that je ne sais quoi: champagne, wine, fresh produce and even a present or two for those near and dear.
Sat, Dec 10. Open 11am–6pm. Iidabashi. www.institutfrancais.jp/tokyo/fr
Kasukabe Hagoita Market
Venture a bit out of town to discover the home of a unique traditional Japanese craft form. Hagoita are paddle-like objects used in a traditional badminton-like game of Hanetsuki played during the New Year. Hanetsuki became popular roughly 700 years ago during the Muromachi Period, but crafty Edokko (citizens of Edo) turned them into art. Decorated with portraits of famous kabuki actors, the hagoita are three-dimensional sculptures using silk, cotton, beads and paint. If Saitama seems a bit far, then perhaps visit Senso-ji’s Hagoita-Ichi Festival where many of the Kasukabe Hagoita are also sold. See the website for details.
Dec 21 through 23. Open: 10am–7pm. Kasukabe (Saitama). www.kasukabe-cci.or.jp/hagoitamatsuri/index.htm
Roppongi Hills Christmas Market
Celebrating ten years of spreading good cheer and offering the best gift selection for both the naughty and nice, the Roppongi Hills Christmas Market is full of good holiday fun for everyone. Modeled after the Stuttgart Christmas Market, one of the world’s most famous and oldest Christmas markets, 111 vendors will settle themselves under the lights and decorations decking Oyane Plaza. Sip and snack along the rows of vendors in search of that perfect gift or just to enjoy a festive atmosphere in anticipation of the holiday season.
Sat, Nov 26 through Sun, Dec 25. 11am–9pm. Oyane Plaza. Roppongi. bit.ly/2f76xFp