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Friday, Nov. 28, 2008

Where to view Christmas lights in and around Tokyo

It's that time of year again when the streets are filled with red and green decorations bathed in colorful illuminations. Department stores and other shops have prepared events for holiday shoppers, and it seems like the city is throbbing with excitement for the Christmas season. Here are some terrific illumination spots to visit in the Tokyo, Yokohama, Chiba and Saitama areas.

News Photo
Marunouchi Nakadori Street

Tokyo Tower

Celebrating its 50th birthday, Tokyo's landmark tower will feature a record 100,000 lights as well as a special 50th anniversary installation and an "anniversary bench" for romantic couples. A 12-meter Christmas tree with 30,000 lights and ornaments in front of the tower will leave visitors in awe, while a wind chime attached to the tree will play music every time it catches a breeze.

There will be a 15-minute light show every hour from 4 p.m. to 11 p.m. In addition, the tower will be illuminated every day from 9 a.m. to midnight through Dec. 25.

Hours: 9 a.m.-midnight through Dec. 25.

Access: Five minutes from Akabanebashi Station

Roppongi

Now a seasonal tradition, the 400-meter-long Keyaki-zaka street leading to the Roppongi Hills complex will be illuminated by white and blue lights fluttering like snowflakes.

The main entrance to Roppongi Hills, The 66 Plaza, will be lit by red and gold lights complementing shoppers, while the Mori Japanese garden will feature illuminations shaped like boxes of Christmas presents hovering in the sky.

The Keyaki-zaka and Mori garden illuminations will be lit from 5 p.m. to 11 p.m. and The 66 Plaza illuminations from 5 p.m. to midnight, both through Dec. 25. Continued from last year, Roppongi Hills is also hosting a German-style Christmas market at O-yane Plaza starting Nov. 29, from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m., through Dec. 25.

Hours: 5 p.m.-11 p.m. through Dec. 25.

Access: Direct connection from Exit 1C of Roppongi Station

Tokyo Midtown will light up its second Christmas with various illuminations. The Midtown Garden area will feature 125,000 LED lights designed to illustrate the different constellations adrift in the cosmos. Trees lining Sakura Street and Gaien-Higashi Street will be lit up in the image of champagne glasses in tribute to the Champs-Elysees in Paris.

Hours: 4 p.m.-11 p.m. through Dec. 25.

Access: Direct connection from Exit 8 of Roppongi Station

Marunouchi

Some 850,000 champagne-gold LEDs will illuminate the trees on both sides of Marunouchi Nakadori Street, lighting the way for those walking through the business district.

Adding to the festivity, an 8-meter-tall Christmas tree will stand in the first floor of the Marunouchi Building.

Hours: 5 p.m.-11 p.m. through Feb. 15 (Marunouchi Nakadori Street); 6 a.m.-12:30 a.m. through Dec. 25 (Marunouchi Building)

Access: One minute from the Marunouchi South Exit of Tokyo Station.

Shiodome

Caretta Shiodome will be revisiting last year's theme of "Blue Ocean," with "gagaku" (traditional Japanese court music) master Hideki Togi returning to produce the illuminations and accompanying music. There will be 10 minutes of music every 30 minutes from 5:30 p.m. to 11 p.m. Visitors can also admire the three Christmas trees — the "Emerald Ocean Tree," the "Blue Ocean Tree" and the "Sunset Ocean Tree" — located on different floors of the complex.

Hours: 5:30 p.m.-11:30 p.m. through Dec. 25.

Access: One minute from Shiodome Station

Shinjuku

Shinjuku Terrace City Illumination 2008 features 12 linked venues and facilities owned by the Odakyu group, all within walking distance of Shinjuku Station's South Exit, that form a giant garden of light, shining on passersby with its gentle illuminations.

Hours: 5 p.m.-midnight through Dec. 25, except for Shinjuku Southern Terrace, which will be lit through Feb. 15.

Yokohama

Marking its 15th birthday, Landmark Plaza will feature a 10-meter-tall "I love you! Tree" decorated with 10,000 Christmas lights. It will be lit up until Dec. 25. The Dock Yard Garden will be decorated with 100,000 illuminations, which can be enjoyed until Feb. 28. On the 69th floor of Yokohama Landmark Tower, the Sky Garden observatory will feature four romantic window displays decorated with various Christmas ornaments and illuminations.

Hours: 7 a.m.-11:30 p.m. through Dec. 25 (Landmark Plaza); 5 p.m.-midnight through Feb. 28 (Dock Yard Garden); 10 a.m.-9 p.m. Sundays through Fridays, 10 a.m.-10 p.m. Saturdays, and 10 a.m.-midnight Dec. 23 and 24 (Sky Garden).

Admission for Sky Garden: ¥1,000 for adults, ¥800 for high school students and people over 65, ¥500 for elementary and junior high school students, ¥200 for younger children.

Access: Three minutes from Minatomirai Station.

Chiba

The main street leading from Chiba Station to Chuo Park will be adorned with 480,000 illuminations. A lighting ceremony will take place Nov. 30, featuring seasonal music performed by members of Chiba's fire department.

Hours: 5 p.m.-midnight Nov. 30 through Jan. 12, but will stay open until 3 a.m. on New Year's Eve.

Access: Chiba Station East Exit.

Saitama

Titled "Winter Fantasia 2008 — Fairy Forest," Saitama Shintoshin's "Zelkova Square (Keyaki Hiroba)" will feature 150,000 illuminations. The zelkova trees lining the second floor of the square will be ornamented with candle-white LEDs, while Plaza 2 on the first floor will feature a "Dreams Come True" Christmas tree made in collaboration with J-pop group Dreams Come True.

Hours: 5 p.m.-3 a.m. through Feb. 15.

Access: Right outside Saitama Shintoshin Station.



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