Best 5 Things To Do in Tokyo This Winter 2019/2020
When I first came to Japan, I didn’t realize how much the distinctive four seasons: spring, summer, autumn, and winter play a role in daily lives in this land of the rising sun. Only after living here for 3 years, I’ve learnt different ways to enjoy each season to the fullest, and in this article, I will share with you the best things to do in Tokyo, or in Japan this winter. Indeed, Japanese people has long been celebrating this “four seasons” element not only in daily life activities, culinary and food preparations, but also in arts, crafts and everyday scenery. Spring is often known as the season of the pastel pink cherry blossoms or sakura; while in summer, celebrations of fireworks, yukata, and festivals are most remembered. Autumn comes and brings a new scenery, fall foliage turns the daily scenery to a colorful picture of yellow, red, and orange autumn leaves. Shortly after that, when winter approaches, the days get shorter and nights get longer making people hurry home after work, the Japanese still finds various reasons to go out and enjoy winter’s chillness. One certain thing is that winter in Japan is very beautiful. The air is crisp and chilly while the skies are clear and blue, sure, you’d want to go out and enjoy the day. However, even during weekdays when you only have free time to hang out after the workday is over, bundling up in your warmest clothes and seeing Tokyo in all its icy splendor is one of a kind experience. Read to the end to find out how to make the most of winter like a Japanese, and maybe you can find out how to spend one of your nights or weekends during the winter in Tokyo and Japan.
1. Illumination Displays
When the days get darker and the nights fall more early in the winter, it is also the time of the year when Tokyo streets turn spectacularly shimmering with beautiful illuminations lighted up almost everywhere. These beautiful illuminations will certainly warm your heart as they light up the city. If ever there was an urban landscape that was made for illuminations, Tokyo is it. Thousands of lights illuminate locations across the city, in a variety of ways. From champagne-colored bulbs that cover tree-lined streets to creative, modern-styled designs, December is the time of year that Tokyo becomes a bright and merry winter wonderland! Stroll around streets and parks, or at one of the many shopping centers featuring brilliant illuminations.
2. Christmas Markets
It may come as a surprise, but Tokyo has some impressive European-style Christmas markets! Each December, Tokyoites flock to one of several seasonal markets for shopping, workshops, and food. Gorgeous decorations and traditional Christmas music set a charming, and magical atmosphere. The markets feature stalls and booths featuring crafts, ornaments, and plenty of delicious food. While shopping and sipping on mulled wine, you’ll think you’ve been transported to a German village!
3. Ice Skating
Winter’s no excuse to stay inside. In fact, when the cold starts to creep through the wafer-thin walls and shoddy window frames of Tokyo houses and apartments, rather than trying to hide under a mountain of blankets, one might actually be better off engaging in some healthy outdoor activities. Ice skating’s obviously something best experienced out in the open, and quality rinks have been popping up all around the city in recent years. In Tokyo, you can find all sorts of ice skating rinks, from indoor facilities to rinks outside where you can both skate and enjoy the scenery. Also, whether you are a first-timer or seasoned veteran, family with kids or couple looking for a date spot, everyone’s welcome, and you don’t even need to have your own gear as they are available for rental on the spot.
4. Hot Bath in Onsen or Sento
Communal bathing has been long been a part of traditional Japanese culture. A few decades ago, Japanese people do not have a bath in their own homes, that’s why public baths which are called “sento” to washup and many of these sento are still open to the public nowadays. Also, the fact that Japan locates within the “Ring of Fire”, make the country home to thousands of natural hot spings, called “onsen” in Japanese. Indeed, Japanese love to go to sento or onsen and consider it as a way of relaxing after a stressful day at work.
Even in modern-day Japan, visiting onsen and sento is a pastime that continues to be enjoyed by young and old alike, especially during the cold winter months. Whether visiting a small local sento, or taking a trip to a luxurious hot spring spa, enjoying a traditional Japanese bath is an activity we recommend every Japan visitor experience at least once. Travelers to Tokyo have plenty of options, both within the city, and a bit further out, where you can find a number of resorts that are perfect for a convenient getaway from the urban jungle.
5. Japanese Winter Comfort Food
One tried and true method of keeping warm in any country is with a piping hot meal. Japan is no exception, and has a winter specialty dishes that keep hungry people asking for “okawari!” (extra helpings)– “Nabe” or “Nabemono,” otherwise known as a Japanese style hot-pot. Enjoyed at home or in a restaurant, nabe is one of Japan’s favorite meals to eat during the colder months. Nabe can contain a variety of ingredients including, seafood, meat, vegetables, and tofu, boiled together in a pot, before being dipped in “ponzu,” a thin, citrusy sauce made from vinegar and rice wine. For people spending winter in Japan, nabe is a must-eat menu item!
Which one of these is your favorite thing to do in the winter? Please share with us in the comment box down below. And if you have any other suggestions to help make our winter warmer or more fun, don’t forget to let us know too!
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