With the festive season almost upon us, readers may be wondering how Christmas is celebrated in Japan. Whilst not an official holiday, there are still plenty of ways to enjoy this time of year.

If you're based in Tokyo (or plan to visit in the future), here are five suggestions on how to add some fun to the festive season in the heart of the city.

Illuminations

lllumination events are one of the trademark signs that the colder months of the year are here, and Tokyo has some great ones that add some light and joy to the holiday season. One of the best is the annual Jewellumination event at Yomiuriland, which showcases millions of sparkling LED lights across the theme park.

Millions of sparkling lights decorate Yomiuriland
Millions of sparkling lights decorate Yomiuriland (Photo: zengame / CC BY 2.0)

Christmas-themed foodie events

One of the best things about the festive season is the food, and a number of ritzy Tokyo hotels serve up elegant Christmas high teas at this time of year. This event at the Strings Hotel Tokyo Intercontinental is just one option, and it's filled with sweet and savory dishes, many of which are designed with Christmas motifs in mind.

If you're looking for a Christmas dinner with all the trimmings, look no further than the Hilton Tokyo's King and Queen's Christmas Dinner. Roast turkey, roast chicken, oysters, crab, various cheeses, Christmas sweets, and more are on the menu, which is sure to satisfy even the biggest of appetites.

Treat yourself to a Christmas-themed high tea
Treat yourself to a Christmas-themed high tea (Photo: Strings Hotel Tokyo Intercontinental)

Ice skating

What's something you see in a good percentage of cheesy holiday movies? Ice skating rinks. Perhaps it's something about the romantic nature of skating hand-in-hand with a loved one, but it's an activity that just conjures up feelings of merriment. Tokyo Midtown's skating rink typically opens from November to February yearly, and after dark the area around the rink is illuminated to create a fun and festive atmosphere.

Something about ice skating just exudes Christmastime vibes
Something about ice skating just exudes Christmastime vibes (Photo: Tokyo Midtown)

Christmas markets

Many places in Europe have incredible Christmas markets where mulled wine flows freely and you can sneak in some last minute shopping. Some places in Tokyo have tried to emulate that vibe, including the Roppongi and Hibiya Christmas markets. You'll find stores selling a variety of Christmassy trinkets and decorations, along with seasonal eats and drinks to enjoy.

The Roppongi Christmas Market is small, but charming
The Roppongi Christmas Market is small, but charming (Photo: Mori Building Co., Ltd.)

Theme park events

If you're looking for an ultra-cute way to celebrate the festive season in Tokyo, Sanrio Puroland's Puro Christmas will be running from November 5th until December 26th.

The event includes Christmas-themed illuminations, a limited-time festive menu, Sanrio characters dressed up in seasonal outfits, themed photo spots, and Christmas stage shows. Perfect for the kids (or kids at heart!).

Festive foodie fun at Sanrio Puroland
Festive foodie fun at Sanrio Puroland (Photo: Sanrio Puroland)