While you may still be recovering from all the turkey and pies you had on Thanksgiving, Japan is already embracing the arrival of Christmas at full speed: you’ve seen the illuminations, you’ve seen Colonel Sanders dressed as Santa Claus and you’ve seen Christmas sales begin at most major shopping malls across the country. But besides all that (and the Christmas cakes), you know Christmas is coming when you find yourself at a Europe-inspired market, sipping hot wine and searching for a piece of Stollen. While most of these markets attract Japanese crowds for the beer and the pretzels, they are also some of the few venues where you can enjoy a somewhat real sense of Christmas – as you’re used to it from back home. Here are our top picks of Christmas bazaars and markets in and near Tokyo for this year.
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Roppongi Hills Christmas Market is the Japanese replication of Stuttgart’s famous (and one of the world’s largest) Christmas marché. It offers over 2,000 Christmas-inspired goodies — from authentic German delicacies to snow globes, ornaments and other festive kitsch. Santa Claus and his reindeer crew will supervise from above the stalls, bringing smiles to the kids and a pleasant vibe for the adults. Original anniversary goods, such as mug cups for your glühwein, will also be on sale.
When: Now through Dec. 25, 2018, 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. (Until 10 p.m. on Fri, Sat, and Christmas Eve)
Where: Roppongi Hills O-Yane Plaza, 6-11-1 Roppongi, Minato-ku, Tokyo
Tokyo Christmas Market will occupy Hibiya Park for a limited period of ten days in December, turning the area into an almost-real fairy tale. Expect to be impressed by the market’s great array of food and drink stalls, various international holiday crafts, and entertaining stage performances. There will also be handicraft workshops and daily live stages by German, Japanese and gospel groups. But without doubt, the most amazing feature of this event is the stunningly illuminated 14m-high Christmas pyramid imported straight from Dresden — because the holiday season is not only about Christmas trees and red boots.
When: Fri, Dec. 14 – Tue, Dec. 25, 2018, 11 a.m. to 10 p.m.
Where: Hibiya Park, Hibiya Koen, Chiyoda-ku, Tokyo
The Yokohama Akarenga Christmas Market is one of the biggest and most popular markets of its kind in Japan, drawing tens of