When the beginning of winter passes, you can find these colorful lights twinkling and warmly lighting up the cold sky. Urban Winter lights in cities transform the time people spend in the city into a special moment that is out of ordinary. Winter lights in Minato-ku are found in city centers such as Roppongi to bay areas such as Shiodome/Odaiba. You can enjoy unique views depending on the location. There are many large shopping facilities so the appeal is you can go see the lights and at the same time you can also enjoy restaurants and shopping. In this feature, we introduce the 4 recommended Winter lights locations in Minato-ku. We’ll tell you about the appeals of each location and we’ll also show you the recommended picture taking spots that we asked from in chargers at each location. They are collaborations of the city and lights that you can only check out this time of the year. Please use this as a reference guide for going out after work or going out in the Christmas season!
Roppongi Hills -Artistic feeling Christmas lights and Christmas trees are scattered throughout the area
There is the “Keyakizaka Illumination” where about 700,000 LED lights are decorated on the rows of Japanese zelkova trees and each area in Roppongi Hills showcases highly artistic Christmas lights and Christmas trees. 5 locations are transformed into special versions only this time of the year: Roppongi Keyakizaka Dori, West Walk, Mori Teien, Roppongi Hills Arena, and Oyane Plaza. One of the characteristics of Roppongi Hills lights is that they take advantage of the “Renewable Energy Certificate” system which means they use clean electricity for the environment.
The theme of this year’s Keyakizaka lights is “SNOW & BLUE” which conceptualizes the collaboration of white and blue color lights. The street is lined with trees for about 400m and the two colors of LEDs give the street a moment to shine. The view is also pretty when the redly lit Tokyo Tower stands in the background. The street of light that looks like it goes on forever is the amazing view only in the city.
The lights at Mori Teien have a refined sense to it as the lights color the ground around the pond. Colorful drops of lights are reflected on the water making the scenery look magical. The heart shaped sculpture “Kin no Kokoro” is also there to make you feel at ease.
At West Walk, the photogenic Christmas tree is a must see. It is a gorgeous Christmas tree that looks like a female figure who has draped a crimson dress around her. The beautiful tree has curvy folds and the overall coloring and the light and dark among the folds change depending on the lighting. It makes people stopping by to watch feel graceful for a moment.
By the way, recommended spots for taking pictures are “on the bridge at the center of Keyakizaka Dori” where you can take a picture of both Tokyo Tower and the lights, “in front of Escada Roppongi Hills”, and “in front of Tsutaya Tokyo Roppongi.” Those are the three places for taking pictures. On the bridge at the center of Keyakizaka Dori, there is a place where you can look down the slope so use your smartphone or your favorite camera to take an amazing picture.
During the Christmas lights period, inside the venue is filled with Christmas decorations. From November 30th to December 25th, Japan’s largest Christmas market will be held. Oyane Plaza will reproduce the authentic Christmas market and the liveliness of Stuttgart Germany. Stollen instructed by masters, and over 2,000 kinds of Christmas items will be sold where Japanese people can experience the Western Christmas culture. In addition, there are Christmas concerts, restaurants and cafes selling unique Christmas cakes, and lots of fun. You can enjoy all areas until late at night so it is also recommended as date spots.
Period: November 11th (Mon) to December 25th (Wed)
(West Walk and Mori Teien: November 15th to December 25th)
Lights are on from: Keyakizaka lights/Mori Teien lights: 5:00 p.m. to 11:00 p.m. (Between December 13th to December 25th, the lights are on until midnight)
West Walk Decoration 5:00 p.m. to midnight (lighting production)
Tokyo Midtown – A huge space of lights expressing the vast world of universe
There are roughly 500,000 lights that are the main Winter lights at Tokyo Midtown. In a grass field of about 2000㎡ is the “Starlight Garden 2019” imaged after the universe. One of the appeals is the “Space Tower” that is being showcased for the first time this year standing 8m tall, expressing space phenomenon in a dynamic fashion. “Hikari no Niwa” (Garden of Light) which has now become established as a winter feature of Roppongi, has evolved after each passing year and continues to capture the hearts of visitors by constantly producing something novel.
The Starlight Garden this year is an expression inspired by the vast story about the origin of the universe and its growth. Starting from the birth of the nebula floating in space, the emergence of shooting star collaborations were imaged after the Geminids, and black holes. It is a dramatic story of stars developing in the galaxy from newly emerging light. The mystic atmosphere is sure to take your breath away.
About 100 star balloons give the whole area a sense of movement, and this year, an 8m high ”Space Tower” is introduced for the first time. It adds multiple layers of beauty to the conventional panorama view as well as the mist pouring out expressing the nebula. For about 4 weeks from November 16th to December 18th, there will be an event where 2 types of soap bubbles will float in the air of light called “Shabondama Illumination” (Bubbles and lights) and it will be held 5 times an hour from 5:00 p.m. With many features, the Starlight Garden is more dynamic than ever and is a must-see event.
If you want an even more romantic time, please definitely go and see different lights within the facility. At the entrance area of Tokyo Midtown is the Plaza Area which will hold “Tree Illumination,” and Midtown Garden will hold “Champagne Illumination” and “Starlight Road.” All of them are different from Starlight Garden in that they offer more grown-up atmosphere. There is a Christmas tree that uses a real fir tree in Tokyo Midtown Garden. This is also one of the recommended spots for taking pictures.
On the other hand, the must-see spot inside the building is the “Santa Tree” located at the big space built in wellhole style. On the tree that stands 4m tall there are about 1,800 ornaments of Santa Claus. Santa doesn’t only stay on the tree and there are 12 sets of mischievous Santa who escaped and are scattered across the building and the garden. Looking for these “hidden Santa” are one of the ways to enjoy this area.
Of course, there are also places to enjoy food and shopping. There is also an observation area called “21_21 DESIGN SIGHT” so a one-day plan of fully enjoying inside the facility and going to see the lights is also recommended.
Period: November 14th (Thurs) to December 25th (Wed)
(Starlight Garden starts from November 26th 2019. It is canceled during bad weathers)
Lights are on from: 5:00 p.m. to 11:00 p.m. (Santa Tree: 11:00 a.m. to midnight)
Caretta Shiodome – Winter lights of sound and light merges with the worldview of popular works
With LED lights fully laid out on the floor, the appeal of Caretta Shiodome Winter lights is how you can enjoy a theater-like atmosphere as if you are surrounded in light. There is also a show making full use of lights and music where you find the romantic world you can only find here.
Collaborations with popular works is the reason why it is so popular. In 2019, there is a collaboration with the Disney movie “Aladdin” and the Arabian colored lights will illustrate the magical night. Other than that, there is a program show with popular songs from the movie (Once every 15 minutes until 10:00 p.m.) and there is a picture taking spot where you can go on a magic carpet and also stamp rallies will be held. The original English songs are used for the show so it is also popular among oversea visitors.
On the observatory on the 46th floor there is an “Arabian Floor in the Sky” where you can enjoy the “Aladdin” worldview and the whole night sky. The observatory on this floor “Skyview” is also free to enter so it’s a must-go see spot when you go see the Winter lights.
Inside the building there is a restaurant where you can relax and look at the lights. Also, at the Sky Restaurant area 200m above the ground, you can see the whole view of the bay area and the Rainbow Bridge, which is sure to double the excitement after seeing the Winter lights. There is also Japan’s only advertisement museum “The Ad Museum Tokyo” and shopping areas you can enjoy. It is a place with many places of enjoyment.
The recommended spot for taking pictures at Caretta Shiodome is inside main tree of the Winter lights venue. Every year, many people post pictures on SNS and it always becomes a talked about spot. Caretta Shiodome lights are held until Valentines day. It is held for a long time so you might want to visit many times,
Period: November 14th (Thurs) to February 15th (Fri) *Closed on January 1st and 2nd 2020
Lights are on from: 5:00 p.m. to 11:00 p.m. (From 6:00 p.m. from January 3rd 2020.)
Aqua City Odaiba – the event lights that are available throughout the year grades up during Christmas time only
At Aqua City Odaiba, there is a “Seaside Illumination” held throughout the year. Every night, there are about 300,000 lights coloring the 200m stretch facing Tokyo Bay outside the building. Although the lights are on throughout the year, it looks especially beautiful at this time of the year when the air is so clear and many people come see the lights.
For this year’s Christmas season, there is an event called “TOKYO RESORT GERMAN CHRISTMAS” held until December 25th where you can enjoy German culture. Collaborating with a long-established German teddy bear company, there is a Christmas tree decorated with about 100 teddy bears and about 5,000 light bulbs. Near the tree, there is also a Hütte (mountain hut) that is reminiscent of the authentic German Christmas market selling coffee and traditional sweets made by companies the German royal families use. There are also many events such as music and sports events related to Germany. At restaurants inside the venue, there are Christmas time only menus as well so be sure to check it out!
By the way, the top 3 recommended spots for taking pictures are “the LOVE sculpture at the terrace of goddess,” “the KISS sculpture on the deck by the sea,” and “the heart sculpture at the terrace on the 5th floor.” You are sure to be able to take a memorable photo together with these cute sculptures.
In addition, fireworks “Odaiba Rainbow Fireworks 2019” are held 4 times in total: December 7th, 14th, 21st, and 28th. Off the shore of Odaiba Seaside Park which is also facing Aqua City Odaiba, you can see about 1,300 shots of fireworks for 5 minutes from 7:00 p.m. each day. You can see flowers of light blossoming in the night winter sky together with the lights at the venue. Be sure to see the collaboration of amazing view you can only find here.
Period: Held throughout the year
Lights are on from: 5:00 p.m. to midnight
There are many other Winter lights spots in Minato-ku as well!
When you take a wonderful picture of this winter feature, please apply for the Minato-ku Tourism Photo Contest.