Here is a list of events and festivals happening in & around Tokyo this month. Churches holding Christmas services are included, as are some of the most popular temples for ringing in the New Year.
*Thursday, December 20: Get in the Christmas spirit by joining a walking tour of Yokohama’s Yamate district historic Western homes – which are decorated for the holidays. E-mail excursionsjapan.com for details.
Happy Holidays & all the best to you and your family in 2019!
Until 12/25 Christmas Markets are being held at Roppongi Hills, Ebisu Garden Place, the Tokyo Sky Tree, & Yokohama’s Red Brick Warehouses. There will be others in Odiaba’s Diver City from 12/6-25 and Hibiya Park from 12/14-25.
12/1, 8, 15, 22, 29 Odaiba Rainbow Fireworks, for 10 minutes from 7pm every Saturday this December. https://www.tokyo-odaiba.net/rainbow/hanabi2018.html
12/1-25 Yokohama Yamate Christmas 2018, Yamate area, Yokohama, Kanagawa Prefecture. Tour historic Western homes decorated for the holidays. 9:30-17:00 daily. Access: Short, uphill walk from Motomachi Chukagai Station or Ishikawacho Station.
12/2-3 Chichibu Yo Matsuri, Chichibu Shrine, Hitsujiyama Park & Yao Department Store in Chichibu City, Saitama Prefecture. A night festival that is counted as one of the three grandest float festivals in Japan, and is designated as an Intangible Cultural Heritage by UNESCO. The highlight of this festival is a parade of six huge, lavishly adorned and lantern-lit floats. 12/2: 11:00-16:30 & 18:00-20:00 parade of 6 floats / 19:00-20:00 fireworks at park. 12/3: 9:00-midnight parade of 6 floats in the city / 14:30-15:30 parade of local Kabuki actors / 16:00-17;30 kabuki plays in Yao Department parking lot. 19:30-22:00 Fireworks at park. Access: JR Takasaki Line to Kumagaya Station. Then take Chichibu Tetsudo Line to Chichibu Station. Or, Seibu Chichibu Line to Seibu-Chichibu Station.
12/8-9 Teppo Matsuri (gun festival), Iida Hachiman Shrine, Ogano Town, Saitama. The highlight is Otachi Shinji – in which two sacred horses gallop up the steps of the shrine, amid a volley of rifle shots in the air. 12/8 14:30 parade of floats thru town. 19:00 & 20:00 local kabuki. 12/9 10:00 kagura. 12:00 & 13:00 local kabuki. 14:30 matchlock gun demonstration. 15:30 Daimyo gyoretsu (feudal lord procession). 16:00 Otachi Shinji. 17:00 parade of Mikoshi & floats thru town. 19:30 local kabuki. Access: Seibu Chichibu Line to Seibu-Chichibu Sta. From there, take Seibu Kanko bus (for Kurio) to Kurio Bus Stop, and then walk 10min.
12/9 & 16 Atami Kaijo Hanabi Taikai or Fireworks Display over Atami Bay, Atami, Shizuoka Prefecture, is scheduled from 8:20-8:45pm (3,000 fireworks) on each day. Access The JR Tokaido Shinkansen Line or the JR Tokaido Honsen Line to Atami Sta., and then walk 15min.
12/9-10 Seki-no Boro Ichi (Rag Fair) at Honryuji Temple and its neighboring area, Nerima Ward, Tokyo. It originated from an agricultural fair, but now the stalls sell clothes, food, toys and plants from 10:00-22:00 on the 9th, 10:00-21:00 on the 10th. The highlight of this fair is Manto Gyoretsu (a procession of people, some holding lanterns and others sounding bells and drums from 19:00-22:00 on the 9th. Access The Seibu Shinjuku Line to Musashi-seki Sta. (North Exit), and then walk 3 min.
12/7-9 Heiwajima Antique Fair, Heiwajima Tokyo Ryutsu Center, Ota-ku, is held from 10 am to 5 pm (to 4 pm on the 10th) daily during the period. (Please enter one hour before the closing time.) More than 300 dealers participate in this fair. Admission is free. Access: Tokyo Monorail Line to Ryutsu Center Sta.
12/8-9 Zen-Nippon Karate-do Senshu-ken Taikai or All-Japan Karate Championship takes place at Tokyo Budokan Hall, Adachi-ku, team competition from 10:00-16:30 on 8th, and at Nippon Budokan Hall, Chiyoda-ku, individual competition from 9:00-18:00 on 9th. Free admission on 12/8. 2000 yen on 12/9. Access (1) Tokyo Budokan: The Chiyoda Subway Line to Ayase Sta. (C 19) East Exit, and then walk 5 min. (2) Nippon Budokan: The Tozai, Hanzomon or Toei Shinjuku Subway Line to Kudanshita Sta. (T 07, Z 06, S 05), and then walk 5 min.
12/14 Gishi-gai, Sengakuji Temple, Zojoji Temple, and near the Chuo City Office, Minato Ward and Chuo Ward, Tokyo. Memorial event for the ‘Vendetta of the 47 ronin’ which took place in 1702, to commemorate their loyalty to their master. This festival features a gishi-gyoretsu (a procession of 47 people dressed as ronin). 12-13:35. Gishi-gyoretsu from Chuo City Office to Zojoji Temple. 14:00-15:00. Gishi-gyoretsu from Zojoji Temple to Sengakuji Temple.
12/15-16 Setagaya Boro Ichi (rag fair), Setagaya Ward, Tokyo. flea market/fair with many open-air stalls selling foods, clothing, potted plants, antiques, etc. 9:00-20:00 on both days. Access: From Shibuya Station, Tokyu Setagaya Line to Setagaya Station or Kamimachi Station and then walk 3 minutes.
12/16 Nincho-no-mai & Miyabito-no-mai or Ancient Court Dances at Tsurugaoka Hachimangu Shrine, Kamakura, Kanagawa Prefecture from 17:00. A Shinto priest clad in a white robe and four Shrine maidens in Juni- hitoe (12-layer ceremonial garments of court ladies) perform ancient dances. Access JR Yokosuka Line to Kamakura Station, and then walk 10 min.
12/17-19 Hagoita Ichi (Shuttlecock & Battledore Fair) in the compound of Senso-ji Temple, Taito-ku, from 9:00-21:30 on 17th/18th, 9:00-20:30 on 19th. Hagoita are wooden paddles (originally used in Hanetsuki, a traditional badminton-like game), and are often decorated with the figures of popular Kabuki actors and are made of elaborate silk collages. They are usually displayed in homes. Access: Ginza or Toei Asakusa Subway Line to Asakusa Sta. (G 19, A 18), and then walk 5 min.
12/21 Osame-no Daishi, Year-end Fair at Nishiarai Daishi Temple, Adachi Ward, 9:00-21:00. Open-air stalls selling Kumade (ornamental bamboo rakes adorned with symbols of good luck for the New Year) are set up in the compound. Access: Tobu Isezaki Line to Nishiarai Station. Change to Tobu Daishi Line to Daishi-mae Station, then walk 5 minutes to the compound.
12/21 Osame-no-Daishi, Year-end Fair at Kawasaki Daishi Temple, Kawasaki, Kanagawa Prefecture. From 9:30-15:30. This fair is one of the biggest of its kind in Tokyo and its vicinity. Access: The Keihin Kyuko Line to Keikyu-Kawasaki Station. Then, take the Keihin Kyuko Daishi Line to Kawasaki Daishi Station and walk 8 min.
12/23 Tenno Tanjobi – Emperor’s Birthday (national holiday). The public is permitted to enter the Imperial Palace grounds which are usually closed, via Nijubashi Bridge, to offer their congratulations to the Emperor and His Family. The Imperial Family will appear on a balcony to acknowledge the crowd. Hours are still to be arranged. Access The Chiyoda Subway Line to Nijubashi-mae Sta. (C 10), and then walk 3 min.
12/24 Osame-no-Jizo (Year-end Fair) at Togenuki Jizo Temple (Koganji Temple), Toshima Ward, 6:00-20:00. Access: JR Yamanote Line or Toei Mita Subway Line to Sugamo Station, then walk 5 min.
12/26-28 Toshi-no-Ichi, Year-end fair around Yagenbori Fudoson Temple, Chuo Ward, features many open-air stalls selling New Year’s decorations, clothes, shoes, bags, etc. from 11:00-19:00 daily. Access: Toei Asakusa Subway Line to Higashi-Nihonbashi Station (exit B3), then walk 3 minutes.
12/28 Osame-no Fudo (Year-end Fair) held at these Fudoson Temples:
1. Fukagawa Fudoson Temple, Koto Ward, during the day. Access: Tozai or Toei Oedo Subway Line to Monzen-Nakacho Station, then walk 2 min.
2. Meguro Fudoson Temple, Meguro Ward, 10:00-evening. Access: (1) The JR Yamanote Line to Gotanda Sta. (West Exit). Then, take Tokyu Bus bound for Shibuya to Meguro Fudoson Bus Stop. (2) JR Yamanote Line to Meguro Sta., then walk 20 min.
3. Takahata Fudoson Temple in Hino City, Tokyo, 9:00 to early evening. Access: Keio Line from Shinjuku to Takahata-Fudo Sta., then walk 5 min.
4. Narita-san Shinshoji Temple, Narita, Chiba Prefecture. From 10:20 a fire ceremony will be held in the compound of the temple. Access: 10 minute walk from Narita Station.
12/30-31 Misoka Ichi (Year-end Fair), Okunitama Shrine, Fuchu City, Tokyo. Open air stalls selling New Years decorations. Access: (1) Keio Line to Fuchu Sta.(South Exit), and then walk 5 min. (2) JR Nambu or Musashino Line to Fuchu-Hommachi Sta., and then walk 5 min.
12/31 Yokohama Chukagai ‘Count Down’, year-end count down event held at Kantei-byo and Maso-byo in Chinatown, Yokohama, Kanagawa Prefecture. Shishimai (Lion Dance) is performed on the grounds of Chuka Gakuin School from around midnight on Dec. 31. Access (1) The Minatomirai Line to Motomachi-Chukagai Sta., and then walk 5 min. (2) The JR Negishi Line (or the JR Keihin Tohoku Line from Tokyo) to Ishikawacho Sta., then walk 10 min.
12/31 Omisoka (New Year’s Eve), the last day of the year. Many people stay at home and sit up until midnight to listen to Joya-no-Kane , or 108 peals of the temple bell, which ring out the old year and ring in the coming year. Joya-no-Kane are sounded at the most temples. The followings are well-known temples in Tokyo:
1. Zojoji Temple, Minato-ku Access (1) The Toei Mita Subway Line to Onarimon Sta. (I 06), and then walk 3 min. (2) The Toei Asakusa or Oedo Subway Line to Daimon Sta. (A 09, E 20), and then walk 5 min.
2. Gokokuji Temple, Bunkyo-ku Access The Yurakucho Subway Line to Gokokuji Sta.
3. Kan’eiji Temple, Taito-ku Access The JR Yamanote Line to Uguisudani Sta., and then walk 5 min.
4. Shibamata Taishakuten Temple, Katsushika-ku Access The Keisei Kanamachi Line to Shibamata Sta., and then walk 3 min.
5. Ikegami Honmonji Temple, Ota-ku Access (1) The Tokyu Ikegami Line to Ikegami Station, then walk 10 min. (2) The Toei Asakusa Subway Line to Nishi-Magome Station, then walk 12 min.
6. Sensoji Temple, Taito-ku Access The Ginza or Toei Asakusa Subway Line to Asakusa Station, and then walk 5 min.
7. Shojuin Temple, Shinjuku-ku Access The Marunouchi Subway Line to Shinjuku-Gyoenmae Sta. (M 10), and then walk 5 min.
8. Tenryuji Temple, Shinjuku-ku Access The Shin-Fukutoshin, Marunouchi or Toei Shinjuku Subway Line to Shinjuku-Sanchome Station, exit E5, then walk 1 minute
12/24 & 25 CHRISTMAS SERVICES *Please contact each church for details.
1. St. Ignatius Church Tel. (03)3263-4584 Access The JR Chuo Line, the Marunouchi or Namboku Subway Line to Yotsuya Sta. (M 12, N 08), and then walk 3 minutes.
2. Franciscan Chapel Center Tel. (03)3401-2141 Access The Hibiya or Toei Oedo Subway Line to Roppongi Sta. (H 04, E 23), and then walk 5 min.
3. St. Alban’s Church (Anglican-Episcopal) Tel. (03)3431-8534 Access The Hibiya Subway Line to Kamiyacho Sta. (H 05), and then walk 10 min.
4. Tokyo Union Church Tel. (03)3400-0047 Access The Ginza, Chiyoda or Hanzomon Subway Line to Omotesando Sta. (G 02, C 04, Z 02), and then walk 5 min.
5. Tokyo Baptist Church Tel. (03)3461-8425 Access The Tokyu Toyoko Line to Daikanyama Sta., and then walk 7 min.