Category Archives: Seasonal

Fuku Daruma / Daruma Market | KAWAGOE & TAKASAKI 【GUNMA】

I often get asked about Japanese New Year’s traditions. There are a  lot, but one close to my heart is the ancient tradition of purchasing Daruma dolls. It was the very first quintessentially Japanese New Year’s tradition I had the fortune to try.

My first New Year in Japan, 16 years ago, was spent in Takasaki, Gunma, which is an area famous for Daruma dolls. My friends and I had the rare opportunity to make our own Daruma. They are made from papier-mâché, are round, usually red with a face of a bearded man. The dolls are to some just a toy, but to most they are more of a talisman.  They are actually modeled after Bodhidarma the founder of the Zen sect of Buddhism.

“Daruma0791” by Frank Gualtieri – Own work. Licensed under Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons – https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Daruma0791.jpg#/media/File:Daruma0791.jpg

When you buy the doll the eyes are not painted in. The idea is to paint in one eye, usually the left one, as you start a quest and paint the other one on completion of your resolution or task. As such, they have become a symbol of perseverance and good luck. The latter is attributed to the Daruma Temple which played a big part in increasing the popularity of Daruma as a good luck charm and as a New Year’s tradition. People who are firm believers in the Daruma tend to buy one every New Year and burn the old one as per tradition.

Both pupils in to mark completion of a task or resolution

Sometimes you see Daruma of different colour. In my own prefecture of Saitama, Fukaya is known for their green coloured Daruma. Supposedly green is more specifically as a good luck charm for health.  In Fukaya, green matches the colour of the city mascot!

One of the more traditional and popular New Year events in Japan is Daruma Markets. There is one in Saitama in Kawagoe’s Kitain Temple every year on the 3rd.  However, the best is the annual Takasaki Daruma-Ichi (Daruma fair) event held on January 6th (and 7th). Daruma Ichi is the largest and most famous daruma market in all of Japan.

The annual Daruma-Ichi (or Daruma Fair) is held on January 6 and 7 every year. During this event, there are the numerous booths around the Reifudo and Darumado, displaying all sizes of new Fuku-Daruma dolls(6cm~75cm) produced by local farm families. Hundreds of thousands of people converge on the temple to buy their Fuku-Daruma dolls for the new year and have them blessed.Source: Obaku Zen School | Syorinzan Darumaji

You can read more about Takasaki Daruma in English here:
https://www.visitgunma.jp/en/sightseeing/detail.php?sightseeing_id=70

You can read more about Daruma here:
http://www.daruma.jp/about.html

Featured Image: “Daruma dolls”. Licensed under Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons – https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Daruma_dolls.jpg#/media/File:Daruma_dolls.jpg

Kawagoe Kitain Temple Daruma Market

Kitain Temple Daruma Festival | KAWAGOE

The real Santa with grotto and sleigh in Tochigi

In the big search for Santa in 2015, one prefecture that stood out for having a great selection of Santa events and attractions was TOCHIGI. So my family of six took to the road to do a bit of reconnaissance. We were very happy with the trip and the abundance of Christmas events and Santa visits in areas of Tochigi.

Nasu Santa (8)It was in Nasu in Tochigi that we found “our” Santa, the one that felt most like the Santa from my youth, that made my children truly believe and added some magic to their Christmas experience. What makes that Santa so magical is that he is in a Grotto and he has his day sledge parked outside.  It was the first thing the kids saw as we pulled into the car park of Finland No Mori and raised the excitement and anticipation from the get-go. It was the start of a magical day for my four kids aged 1 to 6 years old at the time, and I have to say, I enjoyed it more than I had expected. We thoroughly absorbed the Christmas atmosphere and came home with a little jingle in our steps! There were so many Santa photo spots, events and attractions throughout Nasu so driving around that area felt more like Christmas than anywhere else I have experienced in Japan. We will make the trip again this year.

FINLAND NO MORI

People queuing up to see the real Santa
People queuing up to see the real Santa

Finland no Mori is a small Finnish theme park of sorts.  There are only a few shops, but among them is a Moomin shop selling character goods from the popular Finnish cartoon. The main shop is the Harman stoves store, which sells and showcases stoves from throughout the generations. There is a novelty shop within the store. There is also a cafe and shop selling foreign produce on the site and next to it the very popular Hammock Cafe. I think the small retail park is aptly named as it does feel very Scandinavian.
Hammock Cafe

They offer two ways to meet Santa. One is a free event that is usually run the weekend before Christmas. The other way is to spend more than 1000 yen at the bakery, Mori no Pan Ya, and foreign produce shop in Finland no Mori and get a ticket to see him on the same day (weekends and holidays only). With this ticket you get the opportunity to take photos with your own camera. Each day the times are a little different and subject to change so please check on the website (below), but generally there is a mid-morning and early afternoon slot. The day we went the crowds weren’t actually that bad at all, but there was a TV crew there filming which held up the queue.

2016 Information: Santa Claus is visiting Finland No Mori EVERY DAY this year from December 14th to 24th. There are mainly 3 time slots in a day, but on the 17th, 18th and 21st there are 2 time slots. The FREE event for this year is from 3 pm to 4 pm on December 17th. You can see the detailed schedule for 2016 here:
http://www.finlandnomori.net/news.html

Nasu Santa (7)Apart from the opportunity to meet the real Santa, there are also some fun Santa photo spots around the area. Within Finland no Mori itself they have a Santa statue and wooden blocks painted as Santa.  Not too far from Finland no mori, there is a shop were it is Christmas all year round; Christmas Town. Also nearby is the Teddy Bear Museum  which we visited on the trip and some of the teddies are dressed up in Santa outfits and Olaf costumes. Near the Nasu highway exit we stopped at 661 street, which has a great display of Santa statues, including a Coca-Cola Santa at the Coke Store. Usually that store has a Santa visiting too.  There were many places we passed on our journey that had Christmas decorations and winter illumination. There wasn’t time to investigate them all, but generally we felt Nasu had a nice Christmas atmosphere and Scandinavian feel and I certainly want to go back to investigate more. If you have anywhere you would like to recommend, please do not hesitate to comment.

 

URL: http://finlandnomori.net/

Address: 2730-36 Takakuotsu, Nasu Tochigi 325-0303

Phone: 0287-78-0981

Thanks to the completion of a new stretches of highway, Tochigi is very accessible from Saitama. It took us just under two hours to reach our first stop in Nasu on the Tohokudo expressway.

Mt Takao with children (includes New Years data) | HACHIOJI 【TOKYO】

The first time I went to Mt Takao with my 4 kids, they were all under 7 at the time. The youngest had just turned one.  I did the trip sans husband, but thankfully with my best friend, Japanese food writer Fiona Uyema, and her 2 children. I had chosen to take Fiona there, who was visiting from Ireland, after reading a very good write up about the Autumn Leaves in the area. I was very glad we made the trip and was pleasantly surprised at how easy the trip was to manage, even with small children.

When we visited it was bang smack in the middle of prime Autumn Leaf season. I didn’t know it at the time, but the day we chose to go had been reported the previous evening as to be the best day to view the Autumn Leaves in their prime. I think half of Tokyo got in their cars and made the journey to witness the leaves in their prime. The area was extremely busy, we even had to queue to take the exit of the highway. However, it was worth it.

Image from SONY JAPAN

There are a number of different trails you can do, so you can plan according to your children’s ages. 599 Museum supplies good information in English on the trails. Despite being a mountain area, the top of Mt Takao is actually quite easy to navigate with a stroller / buggy. However, if you want to hike the mountain trail, a buggy / stroller is  not advisable.  Also, there are places at the top of the mountain that you will need to park your stroller if you want to explore further. The easiest way (and most fun for the kids) to get up the mountain is the cable car. Even if it is very crowded, they don’t ask you to fold up your buggy, or at least they didn’t ask me – they told me to leave it open. It maybe that they took pity on me trying to flock my herd, fold a buggy and hold a one year old simultaneously! For older children you can also use the chair lifts.

There are two things that I would point out as potential difficulties with small children. One is that as you are on top of a mountain with a steep decline on one side and limited barriers at the side of the pavement, it can be quite unnerving if the kids walk close to the edge. Obviously, I told them not to, but… well they’re kids, even if they do listen, they forget and they can’t quite sense danger like a Mother can. Two; you have to queue for everything if you go at one of the prime visiting times; tickets, trains, toilets, food… everything. On the way back down if you want to get the last cable car, which goes around 5.30 pm, you need to start queuing up to an hour in advance. Also, another thing to take note off is that it is a couple of degrees colder at 599 meters. When we visited in November we needed winter jackets as the sun started to go down.

Despite the crowds and the potential danger, I think Mt Takao is an ideal place to bring young children, even babies, for a mountain visit. It is also a great place to introduce young children to hiking. There is a lot to do in the area, especially close to the cable car and train stations. At the bottom, near Kiyotaki Cable Car Station there is the relatively new 599 Museum, nearby and very close to Keio Takao Line Takaosanguchi station there is Keio Takao Hot Springs and a Trick Art Museum. Up the top, near the Takaosan cable car station there is a monkey park.

There are also lots of eateries, power spots and view points near this station.  Near the Takaosan cable car station at the top of the mountain is Kasumi, a popular spot with hikers for a quick bite to eat. They have 2 popular traditional type Japanese treats; Mifuku dango and Tenguyaki. Mifuku dango is a type of charcoaled dango, cooked in a circle around an open charcoal grill (pictured). One dango costs 310 yen. The Tenguyaki is a type of waffle with sweetened black soybean paste inside. A tengu is a legendary long nose goblin that is an intricate part of Japanese religion.  One tenguyaki costs 140 yen.  They sell ice-cream here too, including a Fly Honeysuckle flavoured ice-cream (pictured).

Takao-san is popular all year round, but it has boom periods which are mainly New Year’s, Cherry Blossom season, peak of summer (to escape the heat) and Autumn leaves season. Another thing that draws people to Mt Takao is that sometimes you can see Diamond Fuji from the Momiji viewing deck of Mt Takao, an opportunity is coming up this month in fact.  Diamond Fuji is estimated to be viewable around 4.15 pm on December 17th and possibly a day or two either side of that.

ZOOM IN: NEW YEAR’S DAY

Regarding New Years, it is hard to believe, but people hike up Mt Takao (or take the cable car) on New Year’s eve or very early New Year’s morning in the dark and bitter cold.  Accordingly, the cable car runs through the night.  In fact the cable car runs from 8 am on December 31st until 6.30 pm on January 1st to accommodate the throes of visitors on one of the popular New Year’s pilgrimages in the Greater Tokyo area.

There are three main incentives to do this:

  1.  to see the first sunrise of the year, which is generally around 6.48 am
  2.  to see Mt Fuji for the first time in the year (weather permitting of course) and
  3. to participate in Yakuo-in Temple‘s New Year welcoming rituals including “the festival to welcome the light”.

This temple also follows the traditional custom of gonging the Temples Gong 108 times to dispel evil. The Keio Takao San hot spring is open over New Year’s, but from January 1st to 3rd they charge an extra 200 yen, so 1,200 yen per person.

Mt Takao is very accessible by car from Saitama and Tokyo, if you are on the Ken-O expressway. From Tokyo it is quite convenient by train, but unfortunately from Saitama the train is a bit more tricky. By both car and train it takes less than an hour to get to Mt Takao from Tokyo. From Western Saitama it takes about an hour by car or train. The station you use to access Mt Takao is Takaosanguchi on the Keio Takao Line. On weekends and holidays two trains on the Toei Shinjuku Line also continue on to Takaosanguchi station. The exit on the Ken-O expressway is Takaosan. The Mt Takao cable car website has full information on how to access Mt Takao.


埼玉県の圏央道の近くに住んでいれば、高尾山は結構近いです。いつでも綺麗ですが、客様が多いときあります。お正月、花見、夏と紅葉の時期です。

 

去年、紅葉のときに行ってきました。先に知りませんでしたけど、天気方法によって、高尾山の紅葉の一番綺麗の日の発表あったそうです。ですから、ものすごく混んでいました。圏央道の高尾山インターチェンジから混みました。しかし、行って良かったです。

The Santa Claus Round Up 2016 | SAITAMA

All of the Santa meet and greet spots included in the above map are detailed in the event section of insaitama.com.  If you click on a Santa on the map it will open a small window with the location’s details and a link to the event’s details. Click on the link to be brought to specifics for that Santa Claus Meet and Greet event.

For those who are visiting Santa in Saitama for the first time, please note that Santa Claus visits in Japan are not like what you might be used to at home. There is no grotto, no present from Santa and you take a photo with your own camera. Most of the events are free, with the exception of the Maruhiro Santa events, which cost 300 yen.

33 Santa Claus Locations in Tokyo

19 Santa Claus Locations in Chiba

Chichibu Night Festival | CHICHIBU

At 2.02 am today, December 1st 2016 the Chichibu Night Festival, specifically the traditional music and performances of the festival, along with 32 festivals in Japan were confirmed and recorded as a UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage. Congratulations CHICHIBU. 🙂

Japanese people seem to have an magnanimous love of the number three. One of the ways this manifests itself is in the numerous compilations of top threes that are famous within the country. There are the three gardens of Japan, the three views of Japan, the three night views of Japan, the big three festivals, the big three fireworks and so on and so forth. Chichibu Night Festival also makes it on to a top three list or more accurately a “greatest” list. It is one of Japan’s three greatest Hikiyama (pull-float) festivals in Japan, together with Gion Matsuri in Kyoto and Takayama Matsuri in Gifu prefecture.



KASABOKO from Chichibu Navi page
KASABOKO from Chichibu Navi page
YATAI from Chichibu's Navi Page
YATAI from Chichibu’s Navi Page

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The floats of this 300 year old festival, which are very different to the better known Mikoshi (portable shrine), 奉奏are on wheels and are drawn by a rope, by bearers clad in traditional festival clothes.  There are a number of different floats classified as Kasaboko or Yatai. Both are floats with beautifully carved ornate roofs. There are two main differences between them.  The first is that the Kasaboko have an appendage on the roof, which remind me of Yorishiro, the white paper decorations you see around trees at shinto shrines. The Yatai does not have this decoration. The second is that the Yatai have room for performers to sit and play music and / or dance, which Kasaboko do hot have. They floats are pulled around the town on both days of the festival:

On the 2nd the floats will be pulled from Chichibu shrine from about 12 noon first to Miyakawa then Moto Machi, Naka Machi and finally Kami Machi at approximately 4 pm. During this time you can watch the floats being turned and danced around the street. The yatai will have live traditional music and you can witness traditional dance. From 10 am to 3 pm you can see traditional performances in Chichibu Shrine. From 4 to 6 pm there is taiko drums and other traditional music performances around Seibu Chichibu station. Fireworks are from 7 to 8 pm.

On the 3rd the you can see the kasaboko and yatai all around the city from 9 am to midnight. The yatai will be pulled with traditional dancers performing in the float, from just before 10 am on the same route as the 2nd: from Chichibu shrine to Miyakawa then Moto Machi, Naka Machi and finally Kami Machi which will be around 1 pm. Chichibu shrine will have music and traditional performances from 10 am to 3 pm. You can see a Yatai Shibai, stage performance, from 11 am to 2 pm in Naka machi near the kaijyou 会場. Oneri (Kabuki Douchuu) a type of acting performance will be held between 2.30 and 3.30 pm moving from around the Chichibu shrine area right down to Yao Department store.  From 10 am to 7 pm there are live taiko drum and other traditional music performances around Seibu Chichibu station and Chichibu Tetsudo station. The fireworks are from 7.30 to around 10 pm.

INFORMATION

Cost: FREE

Dates / Hours: Every year on December 2nd from 10 am to about 8 pm and December 3rd from 9 am to midnight.

URL: http://chichibuji.gr.jp/

TEL: to Chichibu Tourism at 0494-25-5209

ACCESS

From the Chichibu Tourism English webpage

BY CAR

  • Use National highway No. 140 from Kanetsu Expressway flower garden I.C.; in Chichibu-shi (from flower garden IC approximately 35km)
  • Use National highway No. 299 from Kanetsu Expressway Kawagoe I.C. or Tsurugashima I.C.; in Chichibu-shi
  • From Kawagoe, Iruma at National highway No. 299 via Shomaru tunnel in Chichibu-shi (from Hanno approximately 40km)
  • From Yamanashi side via National highway No. 140 wild goose slope tunnel in Chichibu-shi

BY TRAIN

Trains are usually very scarce in the evening in Chichibu, but each train line puts on extra trains for this special occasion. Usually the last train leaves around 10.20 pm. Please do check for up-to-date information on train times.

  • Getting off at SEIBU Railway Seibu-Chichibu Station (limited express from Ikebukuro approximately 80 minutes)
    To SEIBU Railway homepage
  • To each Chichibu-Railway Wado Kuroya, Onohara, Chichibu, Ohanabatake, Kagemori, Urayamaguchi, Bushunakagawa, Bushuhino, Shiroku, Mitsumineguchi nearest station (from Kumagaya to Chichibu approximately 70 minutes)
    To Chichibu-Railway homepage

Even more detailed access information here:
http://navi.city.chichibu.lg.jp.e.qg.hp.transer.com/access/

The Santa Round-up 2016 | CHIBA

Where can I visit Santa in CHIBA?

Santa Claus arrived into Narita airport this morning, November 25th, by plane to attend all the different Santa meet and greet events around Kanto. Please do note that Santa visits here are a lot more simple than in other countries. There is generally no grotto, no presents and no professional photographer.  You can take a photo, but with your own camera.

Below is some of the places where you can find Santa in CHIBA prefecture. Where you see the mention of a “Finnish / Finland Santa” means that it is the Santa that flew into Japan today (or a variation of him).  🙂  If you are looking for where you can visit Santa in Tokyo, that is also featured on this blog: The Santa Round-up 2016 | TOKYO

Please feel free to share this information around.  insaitama.com is a free and not-for-profit blog sharing information for those who don’t read Japanese.

 

FROM NOVEMBER

Ikspiari Town

White Santa is currently on his annual visit to Ikspiari Town, he arrived on NOVEMBER 8TH. You can only meet him if you have receipts for over 3000 yen. They also have another Santa meet and greet opportunity this year, if you take part in a campaign between November 8th and 30th, you will be put in a draw for dinner with Santa between December 22nd and 24th.
Official site: http://www.ikspiari.com/ent/event/christmas2016/
More information in English for this year:
http://insaitama.com/santa-ikspiari/

 

**DISNEY** You can no longer meet and greet Santa in Tokyo Disney Land and Sea. He does feature in the Christmas parades, but is not available for a close up!

DECEMBER

Ario, Ichihara

The Ichihara branch of Ario have a Lapland Santa visiting on December 3rd between 2 and 4 pm. This is a free event and will take place in the indoor part of Sunshine Court.
URL: http://www.ario-ichihara.jp/web/event/4aba9f15-db0c-42de-9222-87432602f902.html

Premium Outlets

Premium Outlets at SHISUI offer the chance to get your photo taken with Santa (bring your own camera!) on December 4th at the stage area in front of the food court. There will be four time slots at 10 am, 12.30 pm, 2 pm and 3.30 pm. Each time slot they will allow the first 50 families to visit with him. He will also visit the premium outlets in Ibaraki, Tochigi and Shizuoka on different dates.
Event URL: http://www.premiumoutlets.co.jp/sp/wsr_santa2016/

Toys R Us, Babies R Us

Santa will be visiting a number of Toysrus and Babiesrus around Chiba. Please note that some of these Santa are Japanese. You can check with your local branch to see which type of Santa is visiting. On December 3rd you can meet him at the Shin-Urayasu and Makuhari Shintoshin branches.  On the 4th he will be at the Shin Kamagaya and Funabashi branches. On the 10th he is at the Matsudo and Chiba New Town branches. On the 11th he is at Narita and Noda city branches. On the 17th at Chiba Naganuma branch. On the 18th and Soga and Ichikawa branches.  Times are 11am, 1pm, 3pm, 4pm and 5pm.  URL: https://www.toysrus-cp.jp/xmas/#scroll-SantaSchedule

Kashiwa Takashimaya Station Mall

Santa will visit Kashiwa Takashimaya Station Mall on December 17th at three different times. Between 10.30 and 11 am he will be in the 6th floor kids room, from noon to 1 pm he will be in specialty store at the 5th floor plaza and from 1.30 to 2 pm he will be at the Sanrio Gift gate on the 5th floor.  All of these are in the S Wing. More information in Japanese on the official site:
http://www.takashimaya.co.jp/kashiwa/topics/others.html#os19987

Sheraton (Tokyo Bay) Hotel

For patrons of the hotel or even just of the eateries in the hotel, there will be opportunities to meet Santa on both December 23rd and 24th.  He will visit between 6 and 8 pm on both evenings.
Official Site: http://www.sheratongrandetokyobay.com/jp/christmas2016

 

Ario,  Soga

The Soga branch of Ario have a Finland Santa visiting on December 24th at 11 am, 1 pm and 3 pm. This event is limited to the first 50 families for each time slot. They require that you have at least one child under school age, i.e under 7 years old. The event will take place at the 1st floor Sun Court.
Event URL: http://www.ario-soga.jp/web/event/d323c23e-f901-4be0-ac9c-66ea11254233.html

NEW Funabashi Andersen Park

GREEN Santa, an eco-friendly Santa from Denmark, will visit Funabashi Andersen Park on December 23rd at 11.20 am and 2.20 pm. Website: http://www.park-funabashi.or.jp/and/aevnts.htm

Narita Airport

This year Narita Airport is celebrating 25 years of Santa visiting.  As I said above, he arrived into Japan via Narita airport today, but he usually visits on Christmas Eve too. I will post more information here when it is released.

There are a few other places I am waiting to confirm whether they will have Santa visiting again this year, I will add them if they are confirmed. If you do know of any, please do share so that everyone can find a Santa near them. 🙂

 

 

 

 

Lapland Santa at Ito-Yokado | TOKYO

You will often hear Santa in Japan being referred to as a フィンランドのサンタ i.e. Finnish or Finland Santa. This is what we call a Lapland Santa at home. Basically, in Japan this is code for a non-Japanese Santa that is usually a native or 2nd language English speaker.  There has been a big increase in the number of “real” Santa in Japan in the last few years.

The Kasai branch of Ito-Yokado have a Finnish / Lapland Santa visiting 3 times on the 18th of December.  The sessions are at 11 am, 1 pm and 3 pm.  There will be an opportunity for a quick chat and photo with Santa on the 1st floor mall stage.

Event URL: http://blog.itoyokado.co.jp/shop/195/event.html

Access

Address: 9 Chome-3-3 Higashikasai, Edogawa-ku, Tōkyō-to 134-0084

Tel: 03-5675-1011

Hours: 10 am to 9 pm

Parking for 1850 cars

Nearest station is Kasai Station on the Tozai line.  Kasai Rinkai Station on the Keiyo Line is also close although its at least a 30 minute walk.

Santa is coming to Haneda Airport International Terminal Station | TOKYO

A Finnish Santa will visit the Haneda Airport International Terminal Station this Saturday November 26th.  They are giving out 25 tickets to families with young children to meet him inside the styles on the 2nd floor. You must have a valid train ticket for that station.  There are two sessions, one at 4.15 pm and one at 4.50 pm. He will be there for about 20 minutes each time. Tickets will be distributed from 2 pm on the 3rd floor.

Haneda Airport International Terminal Station is a railway station at Tokyo International Airport in Ota, Tokyo, Japan. The station is operated by Keikyu, a private railway operator, and Tokyo Monorail.

This particular event is not on the official train station website:
http://www.haneda-access.com/international/guide.html

 

Access

 

 

 

Santa is coming to Keikyu Department Store | YOKOHAMA

クリスマスシーンを演出する商品が充実

A Finnish Santa will visit the Yokohama Keikyu Department Store this Saturday November 26th.  They are giving 30 tickets to families with young children to meet him in the Hagu Kumi Park on the 5th floor, which is the kids floor of this Keikyu Department store.  There are two sessions, one at 1.30 pm and one at 2.10 pm. He will be there for about 20 minutes each time. Tickets will be distributed from 10 am in the Hagu Kumi Park on that day.

This particular event is not on the Keikyu Department Store’s website, but they have other Christmas events listed in Japanese:
http://www.keikyu-depart.com/kqdep/index.html

 

Access

In Kamio-Oka Station, Keikyu and Blue Train lines.

1 Chome−6, Kamiookanishi, Kōnan-ku, Yokohama-shi, Kanagawa-ken, 233-8556

Phone: 045-848-1111

Hours: 10 am to 8 pm

Source: ハグ・クミ・パーク | 各ショッピング店舗情報ページ | 京急百貨店

The Santa Round-up 2016 | TOKYO

Where can I visit Santa in Tokyo?

This list is specifically for places you can visit Santa in TOKYO. Please be aware that Santa meet and greets are not like what you might be used to in your home country. There is generally no grotto and he doesn’t give out a present. A “Finland” Santa generally refers to the real Santa from Lapland.  As of the 27th of November 2016 there are 33 Santa Claus locations on this list, more will be added if new information comes to light.  You can find 18 Santa locations in CHIBA here: The Santa Round-up 2016 | CHIBA. And 23 locations for SAITAMA here: The 2016 Santa Round up for SAITAMA.

Most of the locations that have Santa visiting do state that as Santa is a busy man there maybe changes to the event’s time and location, and even availability of Santa, so please do always ring ahead or check with the official site before heading out the door.

If you wish to have Santa visit your home, Guy Totaro can put you in touch with the real Santa with his “In Home Santa” service:
http://www.supagaijin.com/services/santa-claus/

Please feel free to share this information around.  insaitama.com is a free and not-for-profit blog sharing information for those who don’t read Japanese.

**Sincerest apologies: Coca Cola in Odaiba City was listed in error before I confirmed that Santa was visiting this year, and has been removed from the list. And regrettably it seems Santa is NOT scheduled for the Ritz Carlton this year.**

サンタが東京にやってくる!東京で25所にサンタさんが会えるの紹介です。

DECEMBER MEET AND GREETS

UPDATED LaQua, Tokyo Dome City

Santa will be walking around LaQua in Tokyo Dome City at 3 pm, 4 pm, 5 pm and 6 pm on December 3rd, 4th, 10th, 11th, 17th, 18th, 24th and 25th. Each session he will be around for about 30 minutes. This year they don’t have any mention of a photo opportunity with him on their official site, but according to Tokyo Dome City newsletter “say hello and get your photo taken with him”.
Japanese webpage: LaQua’s Christmas Information 2016

Toysrus and Babiesrus

The Toysrus Santa will start visiting stores around the country from December 3rd. This Santa is often Japanese. In Tokyo, the first store to have him visit is the Ikebukuro Sunshine City branch. On the 4th he will be in Odaiba and Machida Tamasaki branches.  On the 10th in Toshimaen and Musashi Murayama (See MORI TOWN below also). On the 11th in the Tama branch. On the 17th in TOYS R US Fuchu. In BABIES R US Fuchu on the 24th. He will visit for 30 minutes five times in each place. The full list by date is here (Japanese): https://www.toysrus-cp.jp/xmas/#

Grandberry Mall

Grandberry Mall is a popular place to visit Santa in Machida, Tokyo. This year the dates have been set for the 23rd, the 24th and the 25th. They have increased the number of Santa Greetings from three to four, at 11 am, 1, 3 and 5 pm. The 1st 100 lined up will get to meet Santa and receive a sweet treat from him.
http://www.grandberrymall.com/event/#424

Ario Nishi Arai

The real Santa (Finnish) will visit Ario in Nishi Arai on December 23rd at 11 am, 1 pm and 3 pm. The location within the store will be revealed at 9 am on that day.
http://www.ario-nishiarai.jp/web/event/3ba0eee3-ce26-4d29-891e-6409949d8407.html

 

UPDATED Gate City Plaza

The official website has now been updated. Santa will be at Gate City on December 23rd.  Santa will visit from 1 pm and participate in an interactive show on stage. You can get photos taken with Santa from 1.30 to 2.30 pm or from 4 to 5 pm.  Each time they will afford 150 families the opportunity to get a photo with Santa. Tickets for this event will be distributed from 9 am. The official website (Japanese) is: http://www.gatecity.jp/plaza/event/  

NEW Lumine Ogikubo

(Added 24/11). Santa is visiting the Ogikubo branch of Lumine on December 23rd. They don’t specify if he is a Finland / Lapland Santa or not. He will meet and greet and give out candy three times during the day at midday, 2 pm and 5 pm.  Official site: http://www.lumine.ne.jp/ogikubo/topics/topics_details.php?article_no=3045

NEW Lumine Kitasenju

(Added 27/11) Santa Claus will visit the 10th floor of Lumine in Kitasenju three times on December 23rd, at 1 pm, 3 pm and 5 pm. Each time he will be there for 30 minutes.  The official website does not have the details online yet, but Tokyo event websites are reporting his planned visit. Lumine Kitasenju website: http://www.lumine.ne.jp/kitasenju/

Royal Park Hotel

The hotel offers 2 ways to meet Santa for patrons of their coffee shop Symphony. You can book online already to participate in a Santa dessert in the late afternoon or a Santa buffet in the early evening on December 21st and 22nd.  More information in Japanese: http://www.rph.co.jp/restaurants/plan/ds15us000000hsmu.html

NEW Lalaport Toyosu

(Added 25/11) There are news articles in Japanese that Santa is visiting Lalaport in Toyasu, but the official site does not support that information yet. It is reported that he will visit on December 24th at 11.30 am, 1 pm, 2.30 pm and 4 pm for 30 minutes each time. 50 families will get the chance to meet him each session and you can take a photo with him (with your own camera). This is a free event.
Lalaport Toyosu URL: http://toyosu.lalaport.jp/

UPDATED Mori Town

Rumour has it that Santa will visit Mori Town between December 23rd and 25th, three times a day, for a find Santa event.  Santa will be hiding somewhere in Mori Town, find him to get a sweet from him and a photo taken with him. The times are 11.30 am, 1.30 pm and 3 pm. It is a free event. The information has not yet been updated on their website, which is:
http://www.moritown.com/event/detail/?id=304
He is visiting the Toysrus in Mori Town on the 10th of December, although its not yet known if it is a Finland Santa or not.

UPDATED Nihonbashiya Takashimaya

The real Santa from the North Pole is set to visit Takashimaya in Nihonbashi four times on Christmas Eve for a meet and greet. The times are 11 am, 1, 3 and 5 pm. Information has not yet been added to their website.
https://www.takashimaya.co.jp/tokyo/christmas/index.html

There is also an event on December 10th and 11th at 2 and 4 pm on the 5th floor where Santa will make balloon animals.

 Picture

 

NEW Kidzania

Green Santa is visiting Kidzania in December. They have released the information on their website where you can get details on how to participate in this event.
Official site: Kidzania Christmas Information 2016

UPDATED Haneda Airport

Again the information for 2016 is not yet available, but The real Santa from Finland (formerly Lapland) has been confirmed on Haneda Airport ‘s website. He will visit 4 times a day between December 23rd and December 25th at 10.30 am, 12.30, 3 and 5 pm.

OTHER WAYS YOU CAN SEE SANTA

Hotel New Otani

You can see Santa in his Grotto everyday at the Hotel New Otani. However, he is not necessarily available for photos and the times are not provided. If you are lucky you can spot him at work or even better get a photo opportunity.  Official website (Japanese only):  http://www.newotani.co.jp/tokyo/xmas/events/02_house.html
On this blog in English:
http://insaitama.com/santa-claus-house-hotel-new-otani/

Sunshine Aquarium

This year, Sunshine Aquarium ‘s theme is “Colourful Christmas”. They have their famous Santa dive where Santa is in the aquarium in full Santa attire. The penguins don Santa hats and they have a number of events running during the period.
http://www.sunshinecity.co.jp/event/e1325.html?from=aqua


There is a Shibuya Santa Festival from December 1st to 25th, but no details are provided on whether you can meet Santa Claus or not. Also, times and dates are not provided for when he is on site.

 There may still be some Santa Claus locations to unearth in Tokyo, but I know that a lot of people are waiting for this list. I thank you for your patience and support. Santa information in English is still sorely lacking, I couldn’t find anywhere else with more than 5 places listed so I’ve worked hard to bring you as many as possible. PLEASE if you do know of somewhere else I can add, do let me know so we can help everyone find a Santa near them. 🙂 


FINISHED EVENTS

OVER Hibarigaoka Parco Santa

Said to be the first Santa visit of the year in Tokyo, Santa Claus visited Parco in Hibarigaoka on November 11th.
https://twitter.com/maedadayo0426/status/797349263130755072?lang=ja

OVER  Haneda Airport International Terminal STATION

(Added 24/11). A Finnish Santa will visit the Haneda Airport International Terminal train station on November 26th. Only 25 families will receive tickets to meet him, which will be distributed on the 3rd floor from 2 pm that day. The Santa visits are scheduled for 4.15 pm and 4.50 pm. There are 2 conditions; you must have a preschooler or younger in your party AND you must have a valid ticket for the train station. They don’t have the information on their offical website. Information in English on this blog:
Santa is coming to Haneda Airport International Terminal Station | TOKYO

OVER Saint Clair

Santa will visit at Ochanomizu for the 10th year in a row, from 11 am on December 3rd. This event is limited to the first 120 families.
Official Poster:
http://saint-clair.jp/wp-content/uploads/2016/11/57c43e02d7d100450b19a122cb0deffe.pdf
On this blog in English:
http://insaitama.com/santa-claus-in-tokyo-ochanomizu-2016/

OVER NEW LOWP Kitchen

(Added 27/11) For children aged between 7 and 15 years old Santa’s Craftech Workshop is on December 4th from 1 to 5pm.   The 3000 yen fee for one adult and one child includes; “Visit and Photo Time with Santa, Crafts, Cookies and Drinks (hot chocolate or juice for kids coffee or hot chocolate for adults). Photos and video will shot during Craftech Kids to be used on the Lowp website and social media.” This event **requires booking**.  LOWP webpage: http://lowp.jp/event/008.html For more about Santa: http://www.supagaijin.com/services/santa-claus/

OVER NishiKasai Center

(Added 27/11) Santa visit (10 am or 1 pm) AND Christmas Dinner Party (4 pm) with Santa, with activities, games and photo with Santa on December 10th. The 3rd session from 4 pm is for children 4 and up. This one **requires booking** soon and costs money.  It costs 6,500 yen for one adult and one child for non-members and 5,500 yen for Kids International members. An additional adult is 1,200 yen, an additional child is 3,700 yen. You can get a list of prices and full details in English on the event’s official webpage:
http://www.kids-int.co.jp/special/xmas16/nk.html 

OVER Tokyu Hyakkaten Honten

(Added 27/11) Santa Claus from Finland will visit between 2 and 3 pm on the 17th of December. The first 50 families will be able to meet and greet Santa. The event is restricted to families with children under 7 years old. Tickets for the event will be distributed at 9.40 am on the 17th.
URL: http://www.tokyu-dept.co.jp/honten/news/detail.html/?id=746
In English on this blog: http://insaitama.com/santa-in-tokyu-hyakkaten-honten-shibuya/

OVER Ito Yokado

(Added 24/11) A Lapland Santa will visit the Kasai Branch of Ito Yokado on December 18th at 11 am, 1 pm and 3 pm. Event webpage: http://blog.itoyokado.co.jp/shop/195/event.html More information in English on this blog: Lapland Santa at Ito-Yokado | TOKYO

For Other Christmas information for Tokyo, please see Best Living Japan’s 2016 Holiday Guide. It includes information on:

  • Where you can buy a Christmas Tree,
  • Top Tokyo Christmas Decoration Stores,
  • Tokyo Area 2016 Illuminations
  • Tokyo English Christmas Church Services