10 Things You Don’t Want to Miss This Weekend: November 23–25

With the nation swept up in Emperor Meiji’s obsession with westernization, 24-year-old British architectural prodigy Josiah Conder was recruited to Japan in 1877 to teach Japanese engineers and make buildings. Included among Conder’s impressive list of acolytes are Tokyo’s Station’s designer Tatsuno Kingo and Yorinaka Tsumaki, the architect of building number 2 at Yokohama’s Red Brick Warehouse.

A mere 150 years ago Yokohama was a fishing village of 500 residents. Following the arrival of Admiral Perry’s black ships, and Emperor Meiji’s decree to end Japan’s period of isolation, Yokohama became Japan’s port for foreign trade (today: population 3.7 million). Buildings were needed. Europe’s Industrial Revolution precipitated the development of the spacious red brick warehouse, and Tsumaki, who spent time at a German architectural firm, brought the design back to Japan.

Building number 2 was originally a customs house. Its sturdy, steel-enforced frame helped the warehouse survive the 1923 Great Kanto earthquake. Today the renovated Red Brick Warehouse serves as a shopping mall and events center. Every year they hold an awesome European-style Christmas market. Somewhere Emperor Meiji is smiling.

Christmas Market at Yokohama Red Brick Warehouse

Inspired by traditional German markets, Yokohama’s annual celebration delivers a magical fairytale setting complete with thousands of twinkling lights and a towering, real fir tree.

Takahata Momiji Illuminations

Artisans hand-carved intricate designs into 500 dream lanterns that illuminate Takahata Fudo-son temple, the brilliant maple leaves and the five-story pagoda at this autumn festival.

Whisky Festival

Not only did Admiral Perry bring American military might, but he also brought American whiskey that soon became a favorite among local samurai. The biggest whisky event in Tokyo returns for another two-day extravaganza, capturing the history and romance of the beverage.

Japan Fisherman’s Festival 2018

The fourth annual Japan Fisherman’s Festival delivers a great haul to Hibiya Park, from fresh fillets and succulent sushi to cooked crustaceans and tasty tempura. Event sponsor Kirin Brewery will make sure there are plenty of refreshments on hand.

Tokyo FILMeX Film Festival 2018

Catch the last weekend of this international film festival and its lineup of gripping, gritty feature films from Iran, Turkey, Kazakhstan, China, and more.

Romantic Russia Exhibition

This Bunkamura exhibition displays the passion, patriotism, beauty and complexity of a nation coming to terms with the collapse of an empire during the turbulent period surrounding the Russian revolution.

Russian Festival

Meanwhile, celebrate the beauty of Russia, and its borscht, with the staff of the maid café Ita Cafe during the first ever Russian Festival at Yoyogi Park.

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Akasaka Sacas Ice Skating

Now in its 11th year, Tokyo’s biggest outdoor skating rink, boasting magical illuminations and skating lessons, opens for the season.

Tokyo Station City Festival 2018

The joyous sounds of enthusiastic singers – from school choirs to salary men and women to professionals –  will ring out at this inaugural Tokyo Station choral festival.

Craft Chocolate Festival

Just like craft beer and craft coffee before it, craft chocolate – or “bean to bar” chocolate – is the next culinary trend to follow, and promises to be a yummy one.

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