Tag Archives: christmas around the world

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.

SANTAstic Tochigi

In my search for Santa, one prefecture that stood out for having a good selection of Santa events and attractions was TOCHIGI. So my family of six took to the road to do a bit of reconnaissance. 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, where much to my delight the first thing we saw was Santa’s private sleigh.  It was the start of a magical day for my four kids ages 1 to 6 years old, and I have to say, I enjoyed it more than I had anticipated. 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 and the great news is that there is even more SANTAstic fun planned for many parts of Tochigi for the next few days.

 

661 STREET

661 Street is a quirky row of shops and a museum, that are all adjoined. The Coca Cola store within 661 street offers two ways to meet Santa each Christmas. One is the SANTA EXPRESS! When you purchase more than 5,000 yen of Coca Cola goods in the Coke Store, Santa will personally deliver your purchases to your home (within the area). This offer runs between December 23rd and 25th. The other is a meet and greet within the Coca Cola store. (Images on the left and right from 661 street).

Apart from being able to meet the real Santa you can also enjoy the Christmas decorations and Santa photo spots. You can even get a photo with Elvis, a regular fixture at 661 street, with Santa in the background. That Santa is in front of the Coca Cola store. They also have inflated snowmen and a Santa display out the front of the premises.

Nasu Santa (1)    Nasu Santa (5)   Nasu Santa (4)

URL: http://www.661st.com/

Address: 4328-1 Takakuko, Nasu, Tochigi 325-0001.

Phone: 0287-64-0661

FINLAND NO MORI

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

Finland no Mori also offer two ways to meet Santa. This Saturday, the 19th, between 2 and 3pm anyone can meet him at the bakery for free, or you can pay to meet him at a more leisurely pace at allocated times from the 19th to the 25th. If you purchase 1,000 yen of goods from the bakery or cafe you get a ticket to see Santa. With this ticket you get the opportunity to take photos. 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.
Apart from the opportunity to meet the real Santa, there are also some fun Santa photo spots around the area.  Finland no mori is also home to a Moomin shop and a Hammock cafe among others. More to come on Finland no Mori in the coming days. Not too far from Finland no mori, there is a shop were it is Christmas all year round; Christmas Town.

Santa's sleigh Tochigi     Nasu Santa (7)     Nasu Santa (8)  Hammock Cafe

URL: http://finlandnomori.net/news.html

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

Phone: 0287-78-0981

 

BABIES-R-US

Santa Claus will be hanging out in the Babiesrus in Sano for most of the day on the 19th. He will be walking around the store a number of times during the day; 11am, 1pm, 3pm, 4pm and 5pm. If you find him, say hello and get a photo with him. Don’t forget your camera!

URL: http://www2.toysrus.co.jp/store/storeinfo/store.php?id=4789

Address: Aeon Mall, 1324-1 Takahagi Cho, Sano, Tochigi 327-0821

Phone: 0283-21-8801

 

SANTA TRAIN – MOOKA STEAM LOCOMOTIVE

Excerpt from an article on this blog, where you can get all the information you need: http://insaitama.com/santa-train/

This special event is only available for 2 days on December 19th and 20th. The outbound train leaves from Shimodate Station in Ibaraki at 10.35 arriving in Motegi in Tochigi at 12.06. It returns later that day, leaving Motegi at 14.26 arriving to Mooka  (not Shimodate)Station at 15.19. It costs for an adult 1030 yen ONE WAY for the event, plus 500 yen for the steam locomotive fare. Children cost 520 yen for the event and 250 yen for the train fare. Preschool children are free. Tickets for the steam locomotive are already on sale at Midori-no-madoguchi (Reservation Ticket Office), View Plaza (Travel Service Center) at Mooka Station in Tochigi.

URL: Mooka Steam Locomotive SANTA train

Phone: 0285-82-9151

NAKAGAWA AQUATIC PARK

Kimono santaFrom December 1st until 23rd the aquatic park in Otawara has Santa visiting. From 11am and 1pm, for an hour each time, you can get a photo of Santa swimming  around the tank and interacting with the audience with an etcher sketcher! On Saturdays and Sundays Santa wears a red Santa Kimono instead of his usual suit, at the 1pm showing only. The Santa event doesn’t cost any extra money, once you have a ticket in to the aquatic park. Entry is 600 yen for adults and 250 yen for children over 6. Under 6 are free. Please check the website for up-to-date prices. (Images on the left and right taken from the official website.)

URL: http://tnap.jp/index.php

Address: 2686 Sarado, Otawara-shi, TOCHIGI 324-0404

Phone: 0287-98-3055

 

PREMIUM OUTLETS SANO

Santa is available for photos on Saturday the 19th at the outlet. You can find information for Santa Claus at the Premium Outlets in Sano on this blog: http://insaitama.com/santa-premium-outlets/

URL:http://www.premiumoutlets.co.jp/sano/

Phone: 0283-20-5800

Address: 2058 Koenacho, Sano, Tochigi Prefecture 327-0822

 

NASUKARASUYAMA CITY

It is rumoured that Santa will visit Nasukarayama on the 25th to give out sweets to kids. There is a popular winter illumination spot in this area run by the tourist association who can be contacted on 0287-84-1977. The flyer can be found online here: http://park18.wakwak.com/~omotenashi/irumi.pdf

I cannot confirm that Santa will visit on the 25th, but I have added to the list because it is the home of Santa Hills.  SANTA HILLS is a cottage and campsite where Santa has a house, hence it is rumoured he will visit his Tochigi house on the way home!! He does visit young guests of this campsite and lodges throughout December, but they also have a Christmas shop open to the general public and the cafe has a Christmassy feel too!

URL: http://www.santahills.co.jp/

Phone: 0287-96-4622

 

 

On our own trip, we also went to the Teddy Bear Museum where some of the teddies are dressed up in Santa outfits and Olaf costumes. There were many places we passed on our journey that had Christmas decorations and winter illumination. There wasn’t time to investigate them all. However, what we saw and what we felt was reminiscent of a Scandinavian Christmas 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.
Nasu Santa (13) Nasu Santa (12) Nasu Santa (11)

 

 

FUN! FUN! Christmas | Sunroute Plaza Tokyo

Throughout the lead up to Christmas Disney’s official hotel Sunroute Plaza Tokyo have a number of Christmas events on as well as Winter illumination.  They have a great Christmas package for an overnight stay. Please see their website for more information.

From the 23rd to the 25th from the Sunroute Plaza Hotel they have a particularly special Christmas event, for both guests and the general public. They are offering an opportunity to get a photo with Santa Claus, for free. Santa Claus will be available for photos in front of the “sweet house”, pictured below, in the lounge area of the ground floor (1st floor in Japanese/American) from 6 to 7pm and again from 8 to 9pm.  Santa will have sweets for children of kindergarten / preschool age and younger.  Don’t forget your camera!

All images on this blog post where taken from the official website of Sunroute Plaza Hotel. There is more information on this and all their Christmas events, in Japanese on the official website: http://www.sunroute-plaza-tokyo.co.jp/fun-fun-christmas/?page=event#event .  They also have a website in English: http://www.sunroute-plaza-tokyo.com/en/

SUNROUTE PLAZA TOKYO

  • 1-6, Maihama, Urayasu-shi, Chiba-ken
  • TEL. 047-355-1111

Please see the English website linked for information on access. For more SANTA events in the greater Tokyo area and Kanto plain: –

Santa in:

 

 

Don’t forget your camera!

xmas-ph01

 

 

 

santa-ph xmas-ph02

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.

TOKYO

ROYAL PARK HOTEL

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

IMPERIAL HOTEL

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.

ROPPONGI HILLS

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。

HOTEL NEW OTANI

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/

MEGAWEB

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/

MIDTOWN CHRISTMAS LIVE

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

SAITAMA

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

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