Winter in Tokyo is rather cold, but instead of staying inside all day, there are lots of activities for you to enjoy. I hope you have fun with the list of 10 activities below.

1. See beautiful Christmas illuminations

In case you don’t know, “Illumination” is the word used to describe the decorations with lights, especially in Christmas, sometimes it may lasts until February. Every night of the period, all the lights are turned on with the beautiful and variation of colors. 

Christmas Illumination lights at Roppongi.

Christmas Illumination lights at Roppongi. From Flickr

So where to enjoy the lights?

Akasaka Sacas

Last year they featured an illumination event called “White Sacas” whose highlight is an outdoor skating rink. Commonly from the beginning of November until the end of February.

White Sacas

White Sacas. From Instagram

Access:

– From Tokyo station, take the Marunouchi Subway Line to Kokkaigijido-mae Station (7 minutes) and transfer to the Chiyoda Subway Line for Akasaka (2 minutes)

– From Shinjuku station, take the Marunouchi Subway Line to Kokkaigijido-mae Station (12 minutes) and transfer to the Chiyoda Subway Line for Akasaka (2 minutes)

Operation hours of Akasaka Sacas:
Shops 11:00 a.m. – 9:00 p.m.
Restaurants 11:00 a.m. – 11.30 p.m.
Illumination starts from 4:00 p.m. to midnight.

Websites: http://sacas.net/

Caretta Shiodome

Besides having its own vast ocean of LED lights, nearby Shiodome City Center puts on its own illuminations. From the end of November to mid-February.

Illuminations at Shiodome

Illuminations at Shiodome. From caretta.jp

Access:
5mins walk from Shimbashi Station

Operation hours of Caretta Shopping center:
Shops 10:00 a.m. – 8:00 p.m.
Restaurants 10:00 a.m. – 11:00 p.m.
Illumination starts from 5:00 p.m. to 11:00 p.m.

Website:
http://www.caretta.jp/english/ 

Shinjuku Terrace City

The illumination starts from mid-November to mid-February, 5pm to midnight.

Shinjuku Terrace City Illumination

Shinjuku Terrace City Illumination. From Wikipedia

Access:
2mins walk from Shinjuku Station South Exit

Marunouchi Illumination

The illumination lights along Marunouchi Nakadori from Tokyo station to Yurakucho. 

The Illumination along Ginza

The Illumination along Ginza. From Event homepage

Access:
2mins walk from Yurakucho Station or Tokyo station

Operation hours:
From the end of November to mid-January 3:00 p.m. to midnight.

Roppongi Hills

From the beginning of November till the end of December, The “Artelligent Christmas” event held at Roppongi Hills displays illuminations around Mori Tower and along Keyakizaka Street, which located in the back of the tower.

Roppongi Hills Illumination

Roppongi Hills Illumination. From Flickr

Access:
– 5mins walk from Tokyo Metro Hibiya Line Roppongi Station
– 15mins by subway from Tokyo Station
– 10mins by subway from Shinjuku Station

Operation Hours:
5:00 p.m. – 11:00 p.m.

Website:
http://www.roppongihills.com/

Tokyo Dome City

The illuminations spread around Tokyo Dome and the adjacent amusement park, starts from mid-November to mid-February.

Tokyo Dome City Illumination

Tokyo Dome City Illumination. From Flickr

Access:
– 5mins walk from Toei Mita Line or JR Sobu Line Suidobashi Station
– 8mins by subway from Tokyo Station
– 15mins by train from Shinjuku Station

Operation hours of illuminations:
5:00 p.m. – 1:00 a.m. the day after. 

Omotesando

Five million LED lights are used for this illuminations, which goes along most of the street’s length between Harajuku and Omotesando stations.

Omotesando Illumination

Omotesando Illumination. From Flickr

Access:
2mins walk from Omotesando Station.

Operation hours:
Entire December from sunset until 9:00 p.m.

Odaiba

The Decks Odaiba is a shopping center, which offers illuminations around the year, including the “Daiba Memorial Tree”. Several other places in Odaiba area, such as Venusfort and Diver City, also offer seasonal illumination events. 

Odaiba Bridge Illumination

Odaiba Bridge Illumination. From Wikipedia

Access:
25mins by train from Shinjuku Station

Website:
http://www.odaiba-decks.com/services/en.php 

Find out more about Christmas lights in Tokyo from our article: 7 Places to See Beautiful Christmas Lights in Tokyo

2. Go to onsen

Winter in Tokyo is cold, but the hot of onsen will warm you up right away!

Onsen located near Tokyo but in other prefectures

Manza Onsen Hotel in Gunmahttp://www.manza.co.jp/mob/manza.php 

Bankyu Hotel in Tochigihttp://www.bankyu.co.jp/english/ and other onsen in Kinugawa area, Tochigi Prefecture.

Hakone Onsen: one of the popular hot spring areas located only one hour and a half away from Tokyo by car or train.

Access to Hakone Onsen: 20 minutes ride by bus from Odawara Station, JR Line/Odakyu Line

Websites: http://www.hakonenavi.jp/english/

Onsen in winter with snow

Onsen in winter with snow. From Wikipedia

Onsen in Tokyo

Oedo Onsen Monogatari

The most famous onsen in Tokyo, with six different types of bath, from open-air baths, saunas, traditional and more, this Edo era onsen theme park is a must-visit destination! You can even plan your weekend plan here because they also serve overnight accommodation, shopping and dining!

Oedo Onsen Monogatari

Oedo Onsen Monogatari. From Wikipedia

Access:
2-57 Aomi, Koto-ku, Tokyo. 5mins walk from Telecom Center Station

Operation hours:
11:00 a.m. – 9:00 a.m. the next day (last entry 7am)

Fees:
Adults ¥2,480 (Mon-Fri), ¥2,680 (Sat, Sun & hols)
Elementary school students and under ¥1,000
late-night surcharge (after 2am): ¥2,000.

Website:
http://www.ooedoonsen.jp/en/top/

SpaLaQua

Located inside Tokyo Dome City, this bath house provides from bathing to various types of beauty treatments after bathing, plus, it also opens over night!

Inside LaQua Spa

Inside LaQua Spa. From Yuyu Blog

Access to Tokyo Dome City:
– 8mins by subway from Tokyo Station
– 15mins by train from Shinjuku Station

Operation hours:
11:00 a.m. – 9:00 a.m. the next day
Healing Baden 11:00 a.m. -11:30 p.m.

Fees:
Adults ¥2,634
Children (elementary school students and older)  ¥1,944
late-night surcharge (after 1:00 a.m.) ¥1,890
Healing Baden ¥864 (adults only)

Website:
http://www.laqua.jp/spa

Jakotsuyu Bath House

Running since the Edo period, plus never get too many tourists traffic – this onsen is truly a bargain!

The entrance of Jakotsuyu

The entrance of Jakotsuyu. From Instagram

Access:
5mins walk from Asakusa Station

Address:
1-11-11 Asakusa, Taito-ku, Tokyo

Operation hours:
Wednesdays – Mondays 1:00 p.m.-midnight
Closed on every Tuesday 

Fees:
Adults ¥460
Children: ¥180
Infants: ¥80

Website:
http://www.jakotsuyu.co.jp/
(Japanese Only)

Asakusa Kannon Onsen

Although you may thrill at the archaic facilities, coated in a patina of dirt, but most locals give the place a wide berth.

Asakusa Kannon Onsen

Asakusa Kannon Onsen. From Wikipedia

Access:
10mins walk from Asakusa Station

Address:
2-7-26 Asakusa, Taito-ku, Tokyo

Operation hours:
6:30 a.m. – 6:00 p.m.
Closed on Wednesdays, Fridays and Sundays

Fees:
Adults ¥700

3. Enjoy winter dishes

Besides common Japan’s winter dishes: oden, stew, baked-sweet potato, etc., Tokyo is very famous for various kinds of nabe and raw oyster.

One of the most popular winter food “Oden”

One of the most popular winter food “Oden”. From Wikipedia

Japanese style western food, “Cream stew”

Japanese style western food, “Cream stew”. From Instagram

Raw oyster is winter’s favorites dishes. Although it’s a little luxury, but once you taste it, you cannot stop loving it!

Raw oysters. Easy to find in any Japanese seafood restaurant

Raw oysters. Easy to find in any Japanese seafood restaurant. From Wikipedia

“Nabe”, hot pot is popular home made dishes in winter.

“Nabe”, hot pot is popular home made dishes in winter.

In Tokyo, Nabezo is one of the most famous nabe chain-restaurants, which also has more than 30 restaurants located in Tokyo and nearby area such as Kanagawa, Saitama, Chiba.

How to get to Nabezo in Shinjuku;

Access:
5mins walk from Seibu-Shinjuku Station

Address:
8F Shinjuku Takano Bldg No. 2 3-30-11 Shinjuku, Shinjuku-ku, Tokyo

Operation hours: 

Mon-Fri  Lunch 11:30 a.m. – 3:00 p.m., Dinner 5:00 p.m. – 11:00 p.m.
Sat/Sun/Holidays 11:30 a.m. – 11:00 p.m.

Website:
http://www.nabe-zo.com/english.html 

4. Strawberries picking

Winter is the season of strawberries. You can check out the When and Where to Do Fruit Picking in Tokyo for some interesting orchards that offer strawberry-picking!

Fruit picking is such fun!

Fruit picking is such fun! From Wikipedia

5. Do a pilgrimage

Many people go on a Seven Lucky Gods Pilgrimage (Shichifukujin Meguri in Japanese) in January, in order to pray for lucks, blessings from the Gods. You can walk, bike, or even drive. Both JR and Tokyo Metro provide route maps at their stations around New Year so you can do the pilgrimage by train or subway. The pilgrimage doesn’t need to be done in a day, so many walk to the various shrines or temples over a period of several days.

As an important ritual, besides saying a prayer at each location, you should carry a shousasshi (booklet) or shikishi (square formal certificate) and to have each priest stamp them with an official hanko or seal. The shikishi is usually framed and hung after the pilgrimage is completed. The charge for stamping the hanko is usually ¥200.

How the pilgrimage is done. You can dress in normal clothes as well.

How the pilgrimage is done. You can dress in normal clothes as well. From Wikipedia

There are many locations in which to pay your respects, depends on which location is convenient for you, but commonly will be Buddhist Temples (tera) or Shinto Shrines (jinja). You can also get maps at shrines and temples dedicated to one or another of the shichifukujin. Some specific temples and shrines for this occasion are: Tamon Temple, Shirahige Jinja, Kofukuji and Mimeguri Jinja.

6. Be a part of winter festivals

Although summer is the perfect time for festivals, but there’re also many more festivals in winter for you to enjoy! Some significant festivals are:

Tori no Ichi Festival

Held every 12 days in November, the most popular place to join the festival is Otori-jinja Shrine, near Asakusa.

Tori no Ichi Festival

Tori no Ichi Festival. From Instagram

Access:
8mins walk from Iriya Station.

Address:
3-18-7, Senzoku, Taito-ku, Tokyo

Jingu Gaien Icho Matsuri

The times of the event is flexible base on the time when the leaves turn to yellow, mostly from mid-November to early December, so check out the websites for more.  information: http://www.meijijingugaien.jp/event/ginkgo-festa.html 

Beautiful gingko leaves of Jingu Gaien Icho Matsuri

Beautiful gingko leaves of Jingu Gaien Icho Matsuri. From Instagram

7. Go skiing

Besides going to onsen, this is one of the best activities to do outside in Tokyo’s winter. Especially, all ski resorts offer rental ski wears and equipments so you don’t have to prepare and bring along things by yourself!

Ski Resort are pretty easy to access from central Tokyo

Ski Resort are pretty easy to access from central Tokyo. From Wikipedia

There’re many ski resorts around Tokyo you should check out:

Gala Yuzawa

JR provides direct access by shinkansen to Gala Yuzawa. It is also has interconnected with Ishiuchi Maruyama Ski Resort.

Access:
75-80mins by Shinkansen from Tokyo Station.

Website:
http://www.galaresort.jp/winter/english/ 

Joetsu Kokusai

Access:
2mins by train from Echigo Yuzawa Station.

Website:
http://www.jkokusai.co.jp/pdf/eng.pdf 

Kandatsu Kogen

Access:
80mins by bullet train to Echigo Yuzawa, and then a 10mins complimentary bus to the resort.

Websites:
http://www.kandatsu.com/ (Japanese)
http://www.snowjapan.com/japan-ski-resorts/kandatsu-kogen (English)

8. Join a Candle Night

It’s commonly held in both Summer and Winter, you can also enjoy it in Osaka and Tokyo, plus, it’s free!

Candle Night

Candle Night. From Wikipedia

Check the website for more information: http://candle-night.tokyo/

9. Go shopping

Around New Year, you can get some great deals by looking for the “fukubukuro,” – “lucky bag”. A fukubukuro is basically a bag filled with products, all selling for the same price. The fun is, you don’t know what is in the bag, so it makes the shopping cheap and fun!

Lucky bag

Lucky bag. From Wikipedia

You can look for these bags elsewhere in shopping malls and individual shops.

10. Celebrate New Year and join Countdown Events

Japan celebrates New Year in their own way. Most people go visit a temple and pray for good fortune in the New Year after watching the popular music program “kohaku uta gassen” on TV with their families. In major cities, you can join countdown parties, or watching fireworks in Tokyo! Especially enjoy the special tradition dish of New Year “Osechi” and join the Hatsumode. Meiji Shrine or Narita Shinzan are the most popular Hatsumode destinations.

For more about Japanese New Year, find out in our article: The Japanese New Year Oshougatsu Marks a New Beginning

People go to Meiji Shrine in New Year for Hatsumode, very crowded!

People go to Meiji Shrine in New Year for Hatsumode, very crowded! From Wikipedia

Enjoy beautiful Osechi

Enjoy beautiful Osechi. From Wikipedia

 

 

Thumbnail image is from Flickr