Winter in Tokyo is rather cold, but instead of staying inside all day, there are lots of activities for you to enjoy. In fact, there are lots of things to do in Tokyo that you can only experience during winter! 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.
So where to enjoy the lights?
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.
5mins walk from Shimbashi Station
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.
– 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)
The illumination lights along Marunouchi Nakadori from Tokyo station to Yurakucho. These gold lights color office building in central Tokyo!
2mins walk from Yurakucho Station or Tokyo station
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.
– 5mins walk from Tokyo Metro Hibiya Line Roppongi Station
– 15mins by subway from Tokyo Station
– 10mins by subway from Shinjuku Station
Tokyo Dome City
The illuminations spread around Tokyo Dome and the adjacent amusement park, starts from mid-November to mid-February.
– 5mins walk from Toei Mita Line or JR Sobu Line Suidobashi Station
– 8mins by subway from Tokyo Station
– 15mins by train from Shinjuku Station
Five million LED lights are used for this illuminations, which goes along most of the street’s length between Harajuku and Omotesando stations.
2mins walk from Omotesando Station.
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.
25mins by train from Shinjuku Station
Find out more about Christmas lights in Tokyo from our article: 8 Places to See Beautiful Christmas Lights in Tokyo
2. Go to onsen
Winter in Tokyo is cold, but it makes the best season to soak into an onsen. The warm baths of onsen will warm you up right away! You might not believe there are onsens in Tokyo. Here are some of them:
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!
2-57 Aomi, Koto-ku, Tokyo. 5mins walk from Telecom Center Station
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!
Access to Tokyo Dome City:
– 8mins by subway from Tokyo Station
– 15mins by train from Shinjuku Station
3. Enjoy winter dishes
Many people expect to have delicious foods in Japan. If you are coming to Tokyo in winter, you should not miss those foods that locals eat in winter! Besides common Japan’s winter dishes: oden, stew, baked-sweet potato, etc., Tokyo is very famous for various kinds of nabe and raw oyster.
Raw oyster is winter’s favorites dishes. Although it’s a little luxury, but once you taste it, you cannot stop loving it!
- 14 Best Winter Japanese Food You Should Taste
- 12 Shabu-Shabu Restaurants in Tokyo That Will Make You Want More
- Best 10 Sukiyaki in Tokyo You Should Try At Least Once
- 5 Best Chanko Nabe in Tokyo to Keep You Warm
4. Strawberries picking
Winter is the season of strawberries and fruit picking is a popular weekend fun for locals in Tokyo. You can check out When and Where to Do Fruit Picking in Tokyo for some interesting orchards that offer strawberry-picking!
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.
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.
8mins walk from Iriya Station.
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.jingugaien-ichomatsuri.jp/
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!
There’re many ski resorts around Tokyo you should check out:
JR provides direct access by shinkansen to Gala Yuzawa. It is also has interconnected with Ishiuchi Maruyama Ski Resort.
75-80mins by Shinkansen from Tokyo Station.
2mins by train from Echigo Yuzawa Station.
80mins by bullet train to Echigo Yuzawa, and then a 10mins complimentary bus to the resort.
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!
Check the website for more information: http://candle-night.tokyo/
9. Visit around museums and aquariums
When the outside is too cold and freezing, there are always great museums and aquariums that offers fun attractions in Tokyo. Ueno is the center of arts with varieties of museums in the park. Watching fishes and marine animals would ease your mind and you can learn many things in a country that is surrounded by ocean.
Museums in Tokyo: 11 Museums in Tokyo You Must Visit to Learn Cultures in Japan
Aquariums in Tokyo: 10 Aquariums In and Around Tokyo to Make Everyone Relax
10. Skating in Tokyo!
Every winter in Tokyo, lots of ice rinks open temporarily during winter. Skating in central Tokyo would be a memorable experience in Tokyo. Most places offer rentals, so you can just go there and start skating right away!
11. Go to New Years' 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!
You can look for these bags elsewhere in shopping malls and individual shops.
12. 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's Eve: 10 Best Ways to Experience New Years Eve in Tokyo
For more about Japanese New Year: 6 Must Things to Do in Japanese New Year, Oshougatsu
Thumbnail image is from Flickr