What will your perfect Christmas date be?
Spoilers: It's all about romance, not family...
Since Japan doesn’t celebrate Thanksgiving, the next big event on everyone’s mind is of course, Christmas. As sad as it may be, restaurants tend to start filling up with reservations a month in advance, so you need to get everything in order within these one or two weeks (as of the publishing of this article).
Unlike many European or American countries, Japan places a heavier emphasis on romance rather than family when it comes to Christmas. This is probably due to the fact that aside from only recently embracing this holiday, it actually isn’t even a holiday at all. Although December 23rd is technically a public holiday, this is only because it happens to be the birthday of the current emperor (which is set to change in 2019).
So, if Christmas is all about couples, what should you do? We give you our editors picks for the best places to spend a romantic evening in Tokyo on Christmas eve! Of course, you can always choose to spend it at home, but this list is for those who want to spend Christmas outside!
(Editors tip: No matter where you go, it’s going to be cold, so make sure you and your partner wrap up all warm and snug!)
5 - Roppongi Hills
If you’re from North America or even Europe, you may miss having ‘Christmas markets’. Although you aren’t likely to bring home a Christmas tree, you can still revisit those memories at the Roppongi Hills Christmas market. Whilst small-scale, it is themed around being a German Christmas, and it should give your date a bit more of that Christmas flavor.
After visiting the Christmas market, you can also head over to the Cinema which is conveniently also placed within the Hills itself (of course, this depends on if your partner, as some people would like something more special for Christmas). Fortunately for you, due to Japan having slow release dates, coming this Christmas is the very highly praised ‘A star is born’, which will most likely tug at both you and your partner’s heartstrings and elevate your relationship. If they don’t seem interested however, ‘Wreck it Ralph 2’ is also coming out that week. (If your partner is cool, you could also consider the Dragon Ball Super: Broly movie).
After the movie (and a meal at the hills of course) you can hop over for a romantic ‘end’ to your night, by checking out the illuminations lining the trees and streets around Roppongi as you either send her home, or bring her ‘somewhere else’.
Although not exactly original, this is a solid date course, which is easily accessible for most of those living in Tokyo and have to work on the day. If you need a convenient date course, this is the one.
Image source: Roppongi Hills
4 - Odaiba
If you want to put in a bit more effort than going for a date in Roppongi, Take a trip down to our second entry of Odaiba. Always nice even for a normal date, Odaiba houses many attractions which can satisfy a wide variety of interests. If you’re nostalgic, head to the retro ‘Showa shopping district’ or pop over to the excitement of the indoor high-tech amusement park that is ‘Joypolis’. For Christmas however, I recommend visiting the Venusfort shopping centre first. Inside the European themed shopping centre, You can temporarily escape the hustle and bustle of Tokyo, and feel like you are both on a Christmas vacation in Europe.
Of course, this is nothing but a lie, but it allows you the opportunity for you as a couple, to make a goal of actually visiting Europe next Christmas. You can also take this chance to buy a fancy couples present such as matching bracelets at one of the stores, to commemorate the occasion.
After eating at one of the nearby restaurants, you can finish off the night by enjoying the night view (and the lit-up 1:1 Gundam) of the bay, whilst strolling over to the ferris wheel. The 115 Meter tall attraction can give you a beautiful view of the city lights, and give separate your two from the rest of the world for some romantic privacy (for 15 minutes).
Image source: Japanistry
3 - Tokyo Disneyland/ Disney Sea
You’ll… probably need the entire day off for this one.
Even with the massive crowds, it is undeniable that Disneyland / Disney Sea is a great place to spend Christmas in Tokyo. Every year, the theme park makes an effort to put on a special makeover for Christmas. So which should you go to? It really depends on what you are both looking for. To put it simply, Disneyland has a better atmosphere, but you get to drink alcohol in Disney Sea. It’s up to you.
Inside the park, you can relive your childhood nostalgia by watching all the shows, and taking pictures with your favorite characters as usual, but what you need to remember is that it’s Christmas. It’s peak tourist season and peak dating on the day, so there will be lines no matter where you go. Once you get in, your first task is to get fastpasses for all the rides on the day, but even before then, you ABSOLUTELY must get a reservation at a nice restaurant for the dinner meal. Nothing ruins a Christmas quite like being cold and hungry whilst waiting in line, and then resorting to eating popcorn to fill yourself up. You can make a reservation on the internet anywhere up to 6 months in advance, so make one ASAP. (My recommendation for Disney Sea is Magellan’s).
If you are really looking to break the bank, you could even reserve a room at the Disney hotel to retreat to at the end of the night, but it’s really much too expensive for the average couple.
What else is there to say?
Stay for the fireworks and let Walt Disney cast his magic on you both!
Image source: Disney Resorts
2 - Caretta Shiodome
The idea of Christmas lights has come up a few times in this list, but the number 1 in this area is undeniably the Caretta Shiodome (in my opinion anyway). So what makes the Caretta’s illuminations special? It’s the Disney theme. This year, they are theming the illuminations around the Disney mega-hit ‘Frozen’, which alone is more than enough to guarantee some interest in most Japanese women.
Of course, illuminations are just one part of the evening, and you need food and entertainment. For food, you need only to choose from one of the many (luxurious) sky restaurants. Located 200 meters above ground, gaze upon the Tokyo Tower, the Tokyo Skytree and the Rainbow Bridge as you eat Teppanyaki or even enjoy a fancy cocktail at one of the bars. For entertainment, you can treat her to a unique date of seeing a musical at the theater also located at the Caretta. Right now, the musical on show is….Aladdin. (As you may have noticed, the recurring theme is that Japanese people love Disney). Unfortunately for the foreign crowd however, this musical is only available in Japanese.
If you don’t want to deal with crowds and travel, but still want to have a magical experience, the Caretta Shiodome has got your back!
Image source: Tokyo Weekender
1 - Yokohama Red-Brick Warehouse
We’ve covered many different proposals for Christmas dates on this list, but personally I find dates are always best when they include some type of physical activity, to get the adrenaline running. That’s why the number 1 spot on this list goes to the Yokohama Red-Brick Warehouse. Not only do they have an outdoor ice-skating rink, the aesthetics and atmosphere was designed by the reknowned artist Miroko Machiko. You can hold hands as you skate (or stumble) with each other, and gaze upon the pretty colors surrounding you, whilst having a truly Winter-only experience.
Aside from the Ice-skating art rink, the Brick warehouse is also home to many shops for you to again, get a special commemorative gift, and even many desserts to satisfy both your body and soul.
Just like in Odaiba, you can also finish the night in a giant Ferris wheel, where you are free to kiss your partner to your content, and promise to spend many more Christmases together.
Image source : Yokohama Japan
Bonus - Luxury Hotel Christmas (Hilton/ Grand Hyatt)
The idea of spending Christmas at a luxury hotel might sound dubious to some foreigners, and even wasteful, if you have your own home in Tokyo. The idea of a luxurious hotel isn’t just the hotel room however, it’s the entire experience and what it symbolizes.
Christmas is a special occasion for many couples, and one which most people want to put effort into. Nothing quite requires effort to prepare for like going to a nice dinner in which both people make an effort to dress up to blend in with the crowd.
So what does a date at the hotel entail? Get off work on time (which on itself is already a miracle), and check into the hotel to put down your luggage and dress up for the night. Heck, you could even go over for a spa treatment first if you have time. Then, head over to a fancy Christmas themed dinner, which almost every Luxury hotel is guaranteed to have, assuming you make a reservation in advance.
Given the importance that food plays into the night (on Instagram), many hotels have taken the liberty of showing what their Christmas special is. For example, the Hilton has a ‘Magical Alice’ Christmas theme this year, which you can check beforehand and use to choose which hotel to book. The food is bound to be exquisite, and will be the perfect occasion to order champagne with. (Note: Try not to get her too full, in case you have any ‘activities’ in mind for later in the night.)
How would you like to spend Christmas in Tokyo? What would you like to do? Let us know on our Facebook Page!
Also, check out our article about date activities for a rainy day in Tokyo!
They have a lot of imagination...