When I was growing up in Ireland, Santa had a grotto in various shopping centres and department stores that he would visit on the run up to Christmas. In Japan, this is not the case. Although, I eventually did find one place in Tochigi that has a Santa Grotto.
Only in Japan Santa Spots
Usually though, Santa visits preschools and/or community centers for a one off event. Since I first wrote this in 2013 the number of Santa Meet and Greet locations have greatly increased. But again, usually just for one day in a department store or equivalent. However, he also visits the most random of places in the strangest of ways. Here are some fun Santa spots you can probably find only in Japan.
My favourite has to be the Santa that visits Echizen Matsushima Aquarium in Fukui. Not only does Santa and his reindeer deliver a Christmas tree into one of the tanks in November, he also plays janken (rock – paper – scissors) from the tank with spectators the week of Christmas and even helps with the dolphin show the lead up to Christmas.
Last year, another place you could see scuba diving Santa was at the Osaka aquarium kaiyukan. I am sure due to the popularity of the event and the attention it received they will run it again this year. You could see Santa swimming in one of the tanks and feeding some of the fish.
And since I first wrote this post many aquariums have followed suit. You can now also see a Santa Dive at the Sunshine Aquarium in Ikebukuro. They also run several Christmas events including a performing otter in a Santa sleigh!
In my own prefecture of Saitama, the city of Tokorozawa holds a “Find Santa” event. It is usually held in the Tokorozawa aviation park. 100 Santa gather for the children to meet and then parade around the town. The information is generally released on the Tokorozawa local website Machizou.
Tuk Tuk Santa
A Tuk Tuk isn’t even Japanese, but I think Only in Japan can you see Santa in Tuk Tuk. Moreover at a beach clean up. Yep, Santa turns up in his Tuk Tuk at a beach clean up in Chiba every year. He proved so popular that in subsequent years (to writing this post) he now also visits branches of Aeon in Chiba.
Do you known any Only in Japan Santa spots or events? I’d love to hear about them.