Yokohama, though not technically in Tokyo, is only an hour away from Tokyo, and Minato Mirai in Yokohama boasts a distinctive skyline which is especially beautiful at night. The historic Akarenga Soko (Red Brick Warehouse) in Minato Mirai, already stunning on its own, is transformed into a Christmas wonderland from mid November to 25 December every year.
The Christmas market feels incredibly authentic, perhaps even more so than the other Christmas markets in Tokyo, as wooden huts are set against a backdrop of red bricks and cobblestoned paths, and a path of golden lights leads you to the end of the market where a 12 meter-tall genuine fir tree bedecked with golden illumination stands. The theme for the Christmas tree this year is aptly Disney, in celebration of Disney’s 90 years of magic.
In Japan, Christmas is considered as the most romantic time of the year, and thus, it is celebrated by couples rather than families. And you can definitely feel the romance in the air as you walk through the tunnel of lights leading to the large Christmas tree.
Also, while not part of the Christmas market, the ice rink next to the market, adorned with dripping white lights, is not only a perfect complement to the magical market, it is also a great chance for you and your love to re-enact a classic Christmas romance film as you skate about hand in hand!
Besides ice-skating, there are also other activities in the market excellent for couple bonding such as craft workshops, and this year’s workshop features the making of Christmas herbariums, perfect to take home as souvenirs.
And if you are looking for a ready-made souvenir instead, all sorts of Christmas trinkets are also sold in the market, ranging from Viennese snow globes to chimney house candles.
The German ambience of this market can be clearly felt from the mugs of beers found in almost every stall, traditional German cuisine such as hoppel poppel and baumkuchen, traditional wooden dolls, and the unmistakable whiff of grilled sausages in the air. Take this chance to sample some traditional German Christmas fare like the Stollen cake to truly soak up the festive vibe.
There is a dizzying options of food and drinks in the market, and dining areas from Christmas decorated tables to cosy warm tents dot the area. If you are feeling a little frozen from the cold, a nice hot mulled wine will make you feel all warm and toasty.
And if that’s not enough to warm you, there is always the option of heading indoors for even more Christmas shopping. One great thing about having an outdoor Christmas market next to a shopping complex is that you have somewhere fun to escape to when the day gets too chilly. During Christmas period, the eclectic shops in the warehouses also get a Christmas makeover, with a few shops selling all sorts of Christmas baubles, making the warehouses seem like an extension of the outdoor Christmas market.
Once you are done with shopping and dining, don’t forget to take a romantic stroll along the river promenade with the incredible Minato Mirai’s night scene before you, and enjoy the rainbow of “fireworks” on the giant ferris wheel which occurs at every half hour.