Fave Foto Friday… on a Monday

This is part of Sandy (of Scribbles and Musings) #FavFotoFriday challenge. I am not a photographer, nor am I aspiring to be one. I just like taking photos. The #FavFotoFriday is a WordPress Daily Post approved challenge. It’s simple; pick a favourite photo you took in the last week, share it, pingback to Sandy and use the tag.


This photo was taken in the public part of the Imperial Palace Gardens, Sunday November 29th. It has not been edited in anyway. The autumn leaves are stunning and thanks to the blue sky the reflection in the pond is picture perfect.  More to come on the gardens later in the week.


This is my 30th post for #NaBloPoMo meaning that I passed the challenge to post every single day during November.  Party over here!


Gingko Trees at Ukishima Inari Shrine | Kawagoe

Ukishima Inari Shrine is a little shrine you pass on the walking route from Miyoshino Shrine and Kitain Temple.


2 Ukushima 1

The grounds of the shrine have a beautiful water feature and old stone bridge, which unfortunately have been blemished with a vulgar white fence.

Ukushimainari 1
2 Ukushima 2

I have passed it a few times in other seasons and just took a mental note of a playground on the grounds.



2 Ukushima


However, on passing it on my most recent Kawagoe walking tour, the resplendent Gingko Trees brandished their Autumn glory sparking an interest in this rarely mentioned shrine.

Ukushimainari 2

#NaBloPoMo Post #29


UPDATED. A photo with Santa Claus |Premium Outlets

From December 6th to 23rd Santa is travelling around the Premium Outlets for a rare photo opportunity. There will be four sessions daily. Each time the first fifty families will be able to get their photo taken with Santa free of charge.

Locations include the Premium Outlets in Shissui in Chiba, Ami, Ibaraki, Gotemba, Shizuoka, Sendai in Miyagi prefecture.


December 6th

Shisui in Chiba, in front of the food court
Tosu in Saga, in front of Lego

December 12th

Izumi in Sendai, in front of Rope

December 13th

Ami in Ibaraki, in front of the food gallery

Toki in Gifu, in front of Unite Arrows

December 19th

Sano in Tochigi, near New Balance

Gotemba in Shizuoka, in the West Zone near Gap

December 23rd

Rinkuu in Osaka, in front of Gap

Sanda in Kobe, in front of the food gallery.


Times: 10.30, 13.00, 14.30 and 16.00.

They are all free events.

PHOTO from WalkerPlus Magazine.  Information fron the official website at http://www.premiumoutlets.co.jp/wsr_santa2015/



Santa is coming |Grandberry Mall


Grandberry Mall is fantastic for free events and displays around all the big seasonal holidays. Christmas is no exception. The Mall is already lit up at night with wonderful winter illumination, they have Christmas decorations and are offering a variety of workshops and events. One of the events is a visit with Santa.

Santa Claus will be at Grandberry Mall on the 19th, 20th and 23rd of December at 1pm, 3pm and 5pm for 30 minutes each time. The first 100 customers will get to meet Santa and receive a gift of candy. This is a free event. More information in Japanese on their website: http://www.grandberrymall.com/event/#106

Grandberry Mall is in Minami Machida, Tokyo. Phone: 042-795-0109 Web: details below. Address: 3 Chome-3-4-1 Tsuruma, Machida, Tokyo 194-0004


Images from the official event webpage on Grandberry Mall’s official website: http://www.grandberrymall.com/
NABLOPOMO Post #27.  Friday feature FavFotoFriday will return next week.

UPDATED. New Year’s (Countdown) events | Tokyo

This post was for New Year’s Eve 2015 New Year’s Day 2016, you can find New Year’s Eve 2016, New Year’s 2017 here:
New Year Countdown Events Japan 2016/7 | Tokyo

There have been a number of queries on Japan Travel Friendly Discussion Group, a Facebook group I help administer, about things to do in Tokyo for the New Year.  Bait taken.  Hereafter a selection of New Year COUNTDOWN events in the Greater Tokyo Area.  A separate post for NEW YEAR’S DAY will follow soon. Most of this information is EXCLUSIVE and not available mainstream yet This information is now publicly available on the official websites and other webpages. (*The Johnny’s countdown party in Tokyo Dome is near impossible to get tickets for, so there is no information for that popular event on this page.)


ASAKUSA, Countdown event in Hanayashiki Amusement Park.

Information about the event is not on their website yet, but they will add it soon. You heard it here first! The park will open for this special event from 9pm on the 31st to 2am on the 1st. It will cost 1000 yen per person from 2 years old up. Not all of the park will be open, but there will be certain areas open and stage events. The ticket includes unlimited access to 9 rides, which include the merry-go-round, Little Star and Helicopter rides.

URL: Hanayashiki Countdown official webpage (Japanese only)

IKEBUKURO, Nanja Countdown Party 2016

Information for this event is also not mainstream yet, but it will be added to the official website soon was added on December 7th.  The event will take place from opening hours on the 31st and Namja Town will remain open until 5am on the 1st.  They will have a special New Year’s menu available. Entry is 500 yen for adults, 300 yen for children 4 years old or over.  http://www.namco.co.jp/tp/namja/news/000682.html You can also get live updates from their Twitter, if you read Japanese: Namja Town Twitter feed.

JOYPOLIS, Countdown Party 2016

pcCastThis lively event runs from 11pm on New Year’s Eve to 5am on New Year’s Day. They start the New Year off with bingo. Entry into Joypolis is 800 yen for adults and 300 yen for children of school going age. This includes access to some of the main stage events on New Year’s Eve. However, for the countdown parties you have to pay extra. A ticket bought in advance can be used from 8pm on New Year’s Eve. Those tickets are already on sale and can be bought in any Lawson – the code is 33417.  A ticket bought on New Year’s eve can be used from 10pm. Both cost 2,400 yen for adults and 1,900 yen for children.

URL: Joypolis Countdown Event


EDOGAWA, Kasai Rinkai Park Ferris Wheel Countdown

KasaiThe event is free, but you have to pay 700 yen to ride the ferris wheel. There will be live entertainment.  It opens from 23.30 to 0.30 on the 1st. There is no official information on the website yet.

This park is also running another event for New Year’s – on the 2nd and 3rd the first 200 customers will receive a special mini “Lucky Bag”.

URL: Kasai Ferris Wheel homepage

**For REGULAR business days (NOT valid for New Years special event) there is a coupon on their website for a discounted price of 630 yen. This coupon can be used up until March 31st 2016. It has to be printed off, you cannot just show on your mobile.  http://www.senyo.co.jp/kasai/coupon.html

SUMIDA, 2016 Countdown at Higashi Shirahige Park

The riverside area has a long running year-end event and more recently illumination, too. It is a free event. It starts 15 minutes before midnight.  Illumination starts at 5pm and on New Years is on until 6am on New Year’s day.  Queries to 03-3619-8888.

TOKYO BAY, Countdown Cruising, New Year’s Eve 2015

For adults, there are two different cruises you can enjoy on New Year’s eve in Tokyo Bay. Both provide a meal, a glass of champagne plus another free drink and music. The buffet course cruise costs 13,500 yen per person and leaves Tokyo Bay at 22.50 returning to land at 1.20am. The symphony cruise costs 14,500 yen and leaves at 22.30, returning at 1.10am New Year’s Day. You can book from 10am to 7.30pm on 03-3798-8101.  You can find more information in Japanese on their website.

URL: Countdown Cruising Website


AGEHA, Ageha Countdown 2016

**This one is not suited to children**.  Ageha is a famous dance club venue in Shin Kiba. It has a great New Year’s event, from 9m to sunrise. This year’s line up is the EDM superstars W&W as well as DJ Kaori, among others. You need to buy a ticket in advance. Tickets are already on sale and will be until the 29th of December. It is 4,980 yen per person. There’s lot of little events on during the night, including a Ageha shrine and the traditional food of soba.  The phone number is 03-5534-2525.

URL: Ageha Countdown 2016

ENYUJI, Night bells and Projection Mapping

Enjoy a mixture of old and new traditions at the Enyuji Temple in Meguro.  Colourful images, including pictures drawn by children, are projected onto the temple. There are 5 free showings scheduled for New Year’s eve night at 21.00, 21.30, 22.00, 22.30 and 23.00. From 23.30 they will ring the temple bell 108 times, an age old New Year’s Eve tradition.  The bell tolls are to rid us of our 108 worldly desires! The phone number is 03-3712-2098.

URL: Enyuuji (Information in Japanese only)

(The tradition of ringing the temple bell 108 times is practised in many temples all over Japan on New Year’s eve night, I mentioned this one due to the projection mapping shows.)



IKSPIARI, Countdown Live 2016

The free area beside Tokyo Disney resort will host a free live countdown in the Celebration Plaza. The tribute band Queeness are performing live from 11.30pm to 0.15am. A concurrent event is the sale of fukubukuro, lucky bags, from midnight. Restaurants are open until 1am and shops until 3am.

URL: Official Ikspiari Website



OSANBASHI, Yokohama Countdown

Live FREE music concert in the passenger terminal of Osanbashi pier from 8pm to 4am. The line up includes Y.M.G, Good Coming, Star Bell Plus and Lili.  From 0.30am until sunrise they are showing movies for free. This event is taking place on the 2nd floor of CIQ Plaza of the International Passenger terminal. Unfortunately, they haven’t released information publicly yet. WATCH THIS SPACE!

URL: Osanbashi Event page .

Event flyer: http://www.ppit.biz/osanbashi-root/event/151231_CountDown/151231_CountDown.pdf

Information about Osanbashi in English: http://www.osanbashi.com/en/outline/

HAKKEJIMA SEA PARADISE, Happy Island Countdown

Hakkejima Sea Paradise’s New Year celebrations start at 7pm on New Year’s eve and run all night. You can even witness 2016’s first sunrise over Boso Peninsula at around 6.50am. There will be live music and comedian performances throughout the New Year celebrations.  Fireworks synchronised to music will see out the old year and welcome in the new one.  This popular countdown event has been running since about 2000 and draws crowds.  You can already purchase tickets online. The Countdown All Night Pass with special illumination (at 20.30 OR 21.30) included is 3,500 yen per person over 4 years old. Without illumination is 3,000 yen per person.

URL: Happy Island Countdown 2016
Information about Hakkejima Sea Paradise in English: http://www.seaparadise.co.jp/english/


YOKOSUKA Countdown 2016

From 6pm to 1am on New Year’s day you can enjoy the holiday atmosphere of Yokosuka as thousands celebrate in Verny Park, close to Yokosuka station.  Two of the highlights of the night are the navy ships covered in lights and the fireworks show at midnight. Queries to the Yokosuka City Tourism Association 046-825-1080. *This event may not take place if there is bad weather.*

URL: https://www.cocoyoko.net/event/countdown.html



FUJIQ HIGHLAND, Countdown live

You can attend the event if you buy an entry ticket for the amusement park on the 31st. If you buy the pass after 5pm, it gives you access until 8pm on the 1st. They have a decent line up of comedians and TV “talents” for the main stage. There are fireworks around midnight. For those attending the FujiQ New Year party you can enjoy ice-skating all through the night for free.

URL: FujiQ Highland Countdown Live

Information about FujiQ in English: FujiQ Official English website


Please note that some of these events will be dependent on weather, so if it is a rainy or stormy day on the 31st please do check the homepages or ring the numbers provided to see if the events will go ahead.

This is just some of the special events on for New Year’s Eve 2015/2016. There are other types of events you can enjoy, too. For example, a lot of Japanese people go to a shrine or temple to welcome the New Year. My pick for the Greater Tokyo area is the Yakuouin Temple on Mt Takao. However, it is cold, dark and crowded. So why do people go? Two very big reasons; the first sunrise AND the first glimpse of Mt Fuji for 2016. Mt Takao cable car runs from 8am on New Years Eve right through to 6pm on New Year’s Day.

For even more suggestions of great ways/places to spend New Year’s Eve, please see the comprehensive list with details on http://www.newyearsevetokyo2015.com/ Separate posts on New Year’s day and early New Year will follow on this blog soon.

This Weekend in Saitama

For the month of NABLOPOMO blogging challenge, Wednesdays are Weekender Wednesday when I share some events happening in Saitama this weekend. Here is three I chose from Saitama with Kids, a Facebook page I help maintain for information sharing in the Greater Tokyo area of Saitama.


Please comment if you are not seeing an embedded post about the Christmas market at Saitama Shintoshin on your Android app or other device. Thank you very much.








Christmas Candle Night

We are spoilt for choice when it comes to Christmas in the Kanto area. Between Santa meet and greets, gospel choirs, winter illumination and various workshops, there is some element that reminds us of home. For some, including myself, candles play an important role in Christmas celebrations. Even in Japan they have what they call “candle nights” for peace and hope during the holiday season. There are 3 candle nights that I know of in the Greater Tokyo area.


Candle Night for a Million

The first is a fabulous and very romantic display of candles in a wedding reception and bridal shop, Chapelle Des Anges, near Omotesando station. Inside their chapel they will light hundreds of candles on December 21st. The event starts at 7pm on weekdays, excluding Tuesdays. From 8pm they turn off all the chapel electric lights and leave only the candles burning.  It is a free event open to the public. They also have other events running during the month of December. Please note there is no parking. Queries to 03-3402-7222 or you can find more information in Japanese on their website:


Candle Garden

The Yamate Italian Garden will hold their 2015 Candle Night on December 19th. The candles and floating candles will be lit at sunset and will remain lit until 7pm. This is a free event open to the general public. Please note there is no parking. Queries to 045-662-8819 or you can find more information in Japanese on the Kanagawa tourism website:


Twilight Candle

Hakone Venetian Glass Musuem in Kanagawa Prefecture have a candle night event running from December 1st to 25th. You do not have to pay for the event per se; it is included in the regular museum entry fee of 1500 yen for adults, 1,100 yen for high school and university students and 600 yen for primary school students. The candles will be displayed from dusk to sunset daily. Inquiries to 0460-86-3111 or  you can find more information on their website: http://www.ciao3.com/top.htm. They also have an English webpage: http://www.ciao3.com/info/english/index.html

Manhole Monday

Regular Monday feature for the month of NABLOPOMO, introducing the manhole cover art of the Greater Tokyo area of Saitama and beyond.


Even at 599 metres there are manhole covers! I couldn’t find a coloured one, but the steel one is quite nice regardless.



Kawagoe manholes have featured on my blog before, but this week I managed to find a new-to-me one and a coloured version of the Bell Tower manhole cover.



Kawagoe coloured manhole

If you are interested in manhole covers, I recommend you check out these three blogs with a great selection:

Shizuoka Gourmet: http://shizuokagourmet.com/?s=manhole

Life in the Land of Wa: http://dustinandlaura.blogspot.jp/search?q=manhole

KA Japan: http://kajapan.org/?s=manhole

Christmas Concerts in the Greater Tokyo Area

There are a number of special events being held in the Greater Tokyo Area to celebrate Christmas. Among them, you can find some choir group performances and Christmas concerts. Below is a selection of some of the Christmas choir and concerts available this year.



From the 19th of December the luxury 5 star hotel in Nihonbashi give us their Christmas present; a week of FREE Christmas concerts for guests and the general public to enjoy. Twice a day they have a public performance, one at 1.30pm and one at 5pm.  Each day is a different concert including the Marunouchi Choir on the 19th,  Wagner Society female choir on the 20th, the Tokyo Bell Orchestra handbell performance on the 21st, St Paul’s Glee Club  on the 22nd and the Japan Women’s University Choir on the 23rd. More information on their Christmas events on their website in Japanese: http://www.rph.co.jp/information/christmas2015.html


The 125 year old hotel located near Hibiya Station offers a variety of Christmas events, some of them open to the general public. Among the many events organised for the month of December is the Tokyo FM Boys Choir performance on December 23rd in the hotel lobby from 3 to 3.30pm. This is a one of the events that is open to the general public. It is also free. More information in Japanese on their official webpage for the event: http://www.imperialhotel-plaza.jp/wp/archives/2847/

From the official website for the Imperial Hotel event.


The annual Roppongi Hills FREE Christmas concert is being held from December 23rd to 25th. On December 23rd are KRAJA, a Swedish choir group, and LITTLE CAROL, a Japanese choir group are preforming. On the 24th and 25th there will be two performances by KRAJA.Information in English:
クリスマスコンサート | ROPPONGI HILLS ARTELLIGENT CHRISTMAS 2015  Information in Japanese: http://www.roppongihills.com/press_release/pdf/151119.pdf

 六本木ヒルズ クリスマス2015特設サイト。このクリスマスは、忘れるのがむずかしい。


On December 23rd the hotel will host two charity concerts of Christmas carols in the Atrium Chapel. The first performance is at 5pm and the 2nd is at 7pm. Both last 40 minutes. Information on their official website in Japanese: http://www.newotani.co.jp/tokyo/xmas/events/05_charity.html  The Hotel New Otani also has other Christmas events  including a Santa house, on this blog: http://insaitama.com/santa-claus-house-hotel-new-otani/


Marunouchi Symphony orchestra will perform a live FREE Christmas Concert at Megaweb on the afternoon of December 23rd. You can already enjoy Christmas illumination at Megaweb. More information will be available about the full orchestra performance on their website soon. http://www.megaweb.gr.jp/


Starting next weekend, November 28th, each weekend leading up to Christmas, there will be a live Christmas concert of classical music held at the Galleria. Each weekend day there will be 3 performances, lasting 30 minutes, between 3pm and 8pm.  More information is available in English here: http://www.tokyo-midtown.com/en/events_news/detail.php?id=632. The Japanese page is http://www.tokyo-midtown.com/jp/xmas/2015/event/live.html


Christmas Concert in Keyaki Hiroba

On December 19th, 20th, 23rd, 24th and 25th  there are FREE Christmas concerts scheduled from 4pm to 8.30pm in Saitama Shintoshin. The concerts will include gospel choirs, a capella groups, Jazz and other types of music. You can enjoy the magical backdrop of wonderful winter illumination too. The website is in Japanese only: http://www.stib.jp/saitamae/data/index.php?id=10192465

If you have any Christmas concerts you would like to see added to the list, please do not hesitate to comment below.

For a fully comprehensive list of concerts that require advance booking, please see: http://savvytokyo.com/15-festive-christmas-concerts-in-tokyo-this-season/


Thank you.

#NaBloPoMo post #22


Candle events in the Greater Tokyo Area http://insaitama.com/christmas-candle-night/

Santa in Ochanomizu http://insaitama.com/santa-claus-in-tokyo-%ef%bd%9cochanomizu/

Santa in Ikspiari http://insaitama.com/santa-ikspiari/


Santa Claus in Tokyo |Ochanomizu

On Saturday December 5th, for the 9th year in a row, the Ochanomizu Santa Claus will visit from Finland. This very popular event will take place around Ochanomizu train station between 11am and 3pm. There are a number of different events planned for the course of the day, including live music, Santa meet and greet with present and photo opportunities. This event which is FREE to enter, is limited to 120 families. (**Some of the activities may cost money. )  Inquiries to 03-3233-2306 or see their website (linked) for further information. Source: 第9回フィンランドからサンタクロースがやってくる! | 集う街へ。お茶の水サンクレール