The Best Tokyo Winter Illuminations 2015

Are you ready once again to have holiday lights spoiled for-e-ver by the insanely great Tokyo Illuminations? This year, the old favorites do not disappoint, but there are a couple of new contenders amid the light-up extravaganzas going on right now in Tokyo! Feast your eyes on…

TOKYO DOME CITY

This dome puts on an everchanging light show

This dome puts on an everchanging light show

You can see it from up above...

You can see it from up above…

...or sit beneath it for the full psychedelic effect

…or sit beneath it for the full psychedelic effect

These color-changing light spheres are bobbing around in all the fountains this year

These color-changing light spheres are bobbing around in all the fountains this year

And DUH it's an amusement park, so if you dare to risk freezing your patootie off, you can ride the splashy one through the illuminations at night

And DUH it’s an amusement park, so if you dare to risk freezing your patootie off, you can ride the splashy one through the illuminations at night

And don't forget to walk through the Wonka-esque rainbow tunnel of luv

And don’t forget to walk through the Wonka-esque rainbow tunnel of luv

The Tokyo Dome City amusement park puts on a lights and fountains extravaganza every year, and you don’t even have to pay for any rides to enjoy it!

November 10 – February 14

17:00 – 25:00

Admission: Free

Map

And, of course, the perennial favorites, spiffed up for a new year:

TOKYO MIDTOWN

Photo thanks to jpninfo.com

Photo thanks to jpninfo.com

I didn’t think it was possible to outdo last year’s show, but the 2015 show has a planet theme that looks spectacular. Once again, this mesmerizing field of lights is choreographed to an ethereal wintry soundtrack.

November 12 – December 25

17:00 – 23:00

Admission: Free

Map

SHIODOME

Once again, this Shiodome courtyard is transformed into a fantasy landscape of starry blue lights

Once again, this Shiodome courtyard is transformed into a fantasy landscape of starry blue lights

Ahahaha, bet you thought that was supposed to be a Christmas tree!

Ahahaha, bet you thought that was supposed to be a Christmas tree!

One snap from the ten-minute light & music show

One snap from the ten-minute light & music show

This year’s illumination at Shiodome Caretta is a new version of the “Canyon D’Azur.” Once again, the landscape of rolling hills and trees is animated and set to music. There’s more than one variation of the show, and they happen every 20 minutes, starting at 18:00. In between, you can line up to get your picture taken in front of that central tree.

November 19 – February 14 (closed 1/1-1/2)

18:00 – 23:00

Admission: Free

Map

ROPPONGI HILLS

RoppongiIllumin

Photo courtesy of JapanToday

Over at Roppongi Hills, Keyakizaka-dori’s avenue of lights is always beautiful. The best place to see the promenade (and get a view of Tokyo Tower) is from the bridge over the street by the Louis Vuitton store.

November 4 – December 25

17:00 – 23:00

Admission: Free

Map

SHINJUKU

Photo courtesy of JapanToday

Photo courtesy of JapanToday

Once again, the trees lining the promenade between Shinjuku South-East Exit and Times Square are strung with lights, and Mosaic Street (the walk that goes through MyLord) is festooned with stars and planets.

November 12 – February 25

17:00 – 24:00

Admission: Free

Map

VENUSFORT

IlluminationsVenusfort

Photo thanks to expatsguide.jp

While you’re out ogling the Gundam robot in Odaiba, stop by the VenusFort mall (that eerie Caesar’s Palace lookalike!) to see the cascades of blue rain and the stars ‘n planets projection mapping show.

November 7 – March 13

Noon – Close (projection mapping shows start every half hour at :00 and :30)

Admission: Free

EBISU GARDEN PLACE

EbisuIllumin

This display doesn’t change from year to year, but if you haven’t been there, the view from the red carpet that leads from the Christmas tree to the gigantic Baccarat chandelier is worth seeing once.

November 7 – January 11

16:00 – 24:00

Admission: Free

Map

GUNDAM PROJECTION MAPPING

Gundam1

Gundam2

Gundam3

Gundam4

Gundam6

Holiday lights don’t get any more only-in-Japan than this – the five-story tall Gundam robot in Odaiba has been custom projection mapped with a brand new holiday show (with music!) The Japan Times put up a video, that you can check out for even more wow.

December 1 – February 14

18:00-21:00 – The projection sequence starts again every half hour at :00 and :30

Admission: Free

Map

Sadly, they decided not to illuminate the Meguro River in Nakameguro this year, so we’ll have to hope they do it again next time. And this Gundam is being replaced by a new one, which I hope they’ll also map with a great show, come December.

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