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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

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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Jonelle Patrick writes novels set in Japan, produces the monthly newsletter Japanagram, and blogs at Only In Japan and The Tokyo Guide I Wish I’d Had

Jonelle Patrick View All

Writing mystery books set in Tokyo is mostly what I do, but I also blog about the odd stuff I see every day in Japan. I'm a graduate of Stanford University and the Sendagaya Japanese Institute in Tokyo, and a member of the International Thriller Writers, the Mystery Writers of America, and Sisters In Crime. When I'm not in Tokyo, I live in San Francisco. I also host a travel site called The Tokyo Guide I Wish I'd Had, so if you're headed to Japan and want to check out the places I take my friends when they're in town, take a look!

4 thoughts on “The Best Tokyo Winter Illuminations 2015 Leave a comment

      • Seriously? I kept telling myself all day to find something to do in Tokyo, but I ended up playing video games and watching made-for-internet TV instead.

      • Arg, sorry, I got crazy busy and forgot to say that you definitely owe it to yourself to come into town and make the rounds of the illuminations before they go away! You can plot out a pilgrimage route by train, and see them all in one fell swoop!

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