December is the beginning of winter in Japan. It's a season when lots of nice winter foods become popular and widely available at restaurants. That in itself will give you plenty to do in December if you're a foodie! Also, the country gets a little Christmassy in its own way, and the beginning of the skiing season starts. So here are the things you can do in Japan in December!
Japan might not be the first country that comes to mind when we think about Christmas. Although the celebrations aren't as important as in many countries with large Christian populations, one thing the Japanese have come to excel in is putting on impressive light displays. leading up to Christmas and for some time after, you can find many beautiful spots of amazing illuminations in Tokyo. One of the most popular spots in Tokyo is the Caretta Shiodome Illuminations near the Shimbashi Station.
In the city of Tokyo, there are many other magical spots to get into the Christmas spirit. The Ebisu Garden place (pictured above) is one of them, and the beautiful golden colors of the Marunouchi area are also very popular. For more information on the best spots in the city, refer to the link below!
There are a few Christmas markets worth going to in Tokyo during December. These also include some illuminations but the focus is more on the food. You can usually buy Christmas related food and drinks at stalls, drink alcohol and sometimes buy some decorations or other Christmas products.
Outside of Tokyo, there is the huge and popular Yokohama Christmas Market held every year in the beautiful Red Brick Warehouse (Akarenga) in the port area of the city. There you'll find heaps of good foods and small shops selling Christmas-related goods.
The Japanese have this awesome tradition of getting together with friends, colleagues or club members to throw festive get-togethers at restaurants. The aim is to forget the year's bad memories and the way they do it is by drinking lots and lots of alcohol. Walk into any Izakaya in the evening and you should feel this special bonenkai atmosphere.
Japan has an amazing food culture that spans centuries of tradition. For the winter, there are lots of staple types of cuisine you should definitely try! Nabe hot pots are definitely one of the best comfort foods you can have during a cold day. Shabu shabu and sukiyaki (slices of meat dipped in a soup) are also often considered winter foods that most people love. Many restaurants offer all-you-can-eat options for shabu shabu at a fairly reasonable price! Oden is a must try at convenience stores, and there are a couple of traditional mochi desserts you might be interested in too.
Shabu shabu is a kind of meat fondue in which lots of veggies are also added. It comes with dipping sauces.
Also, you might be surprised to know that Japan has its own traditions when it comes to eating foods for Christmas. Forget about the oven-cooked turkeys, the Japanese go crazy for KFC chicken on the 25th of December. To learn more on the foods people in Japan eat for Christmas refer to the link below.
The skiing season starts around December in Japan. There are many world-class ski resorts. Many are found in Hokkaido, Japan's northern-most island, but some others are found in the regions to the west of Tokyo or in the Tohoku region. In all cases, Japanese mountains have long slopes for all levels and receive a reliable amount of fresh powdery snow every winter season.