Enjoy all of winter’s best bits – dazzling light displays, seasonal shopping thrills and delicious eats – with help from this LUXE list of Christmas must-dos in Tokyo. Reindeer jumper and Santa socks: advisable.
Join the festive merrymakers heading for Marunouchi Naka-dori and its famous yearly display, which is one of Tokyo’s most popular illumination spots for good reason. Nakadori Street is a highlight; there will also be plenty of buildings strung with sparkling lights. This year, champagne-hued, low-energy bulbs will be used, so you can ‘ooh’ and ‘aah’ with a clear conscience. The displays are up until 18 February; don’t miss out.
Once you’ve explored the glittering Marunouchi district (and its cosy cafés, restaurants and bars), head home to The Peninsula for the hotel’s annual illumination show, which has a 'Kawaii Christmas'theme this year. Expect to admire a cute collection of all-aglow bears dotted around the property; look out for Peter the Bear sporting his festive finery.
In need of some last-minute gifting? Help is at hand (Tokyu Hands, to be precise). This gargantuan department store stocks pretty much every conceivable item, however fussy your recipient. Get pretty little extras from the stationery department; shiba-inu shaped notebooks and other wallet-friendly kawaii knick-knacks are a highlight. Alternatively, hit up the extensive cosmetics floor for beauty-boosting Japanese lotions and potions.
For all manner of lovely little trinkets, try regional-crafts showcase Japan Traditional Crafts Aoyama Square, which sells every possible kind of all-Nippon artisan object, from tea kettles from Yamagata to lacquer bowls, washi lamps and carved wooden koi. The English-speaking staff know their stuff inside out; they’ll tell you all about the history and region of your purchase.
If you prefer your winter-warming fare to come with a side portion of glamour, head to Ukai-tei Omotesando. Here, Teppanyaki hotplate pyrotechnics go gangbusters in a 150-year-old merchant house gussied up in lacquered woods and Art Deco lilts. The melt-in-your-mouth marbled black Wagyu cuts are flipped in front of your eyes and seasoned to suit your palate. Don’t stuff yourself silly with steak; you’ll want to save space for the divine desserts, which are served in a separate, old-school salon.
If you’re after a more low-key culinary affair, hit up Otako: a cosy, come-as-you-are counter that's been serving up its speciality hot pot oden for nearly a century. Mini meatballs, octopus, tofu, veg, and mysterious cabbage parcels are left to bubble in a hearty brown broth until they've absorbed all the rich umami flavours, before being fished out and popped onto your plate with a side of spicy mustard and hot sake. Soup-erb.
Marunouchi Naka-dori / 1-3 Marunouchi / Chiyoda-ku / gotokyo.org
Tokyu Hands / 8-10/F / Daimaru Tokyo Bldg / 1-9-1 Marunouchi / Chiyoda-ku / +81 3 5220 7109 / 10am-10pm daily / tokyu-hands.co.jp
Japan Traditional Crafts Aoyama Square / 1/F / Akasaka Oji Bldg / 8-1-22 Akasaka / Minato-ku / +81 3 5785 1301 / 11am-7pm daily / kougeihin.jp
Ukai-tei Omotesando / 5F / Omotesando Gyre / 5-10-1 Jingumae / Shibuya-ku / +81 3 5467 5252 /lunch & dinner daily / ukai.co.jp
Otako / 2-2-3 Nihonbashi / Chuo-ku / +81 3 3243 8282 / lunch Mon-Fri, dinner Mon-Sat