TOPTokyo LifeGuides & InsightsWhat’s New in Ginza This Month: December 2020

What’s New in Ginza This Month: December 2020

Christmas markets, New Year's sales, a free Noh performance and much more is happening in Ginza this holiday season

By David McElhinney

In this month’s “What’s New in Ginza,” Christmas cheer is still pervading the air. But we’re also looking ahead to the New Year and beginning to get a little flavor of what 2021 might have in store for us. On the calendar are post-Christmas sales and fukubukuro (lucky dip shopping bags), one of Japan’s most authentic Christmas markets, festive menus at Ginza’s high-flying international restaurants, and an exclusive art book sale at Tsutaya bookstore. 

Tokyo Christmas Market in Hibiya Park

Christmas markets in Japan can be a little underwhelming, a reminder of what you’re missing rather than a faithful recreation instilling a sense of home. The Tokyo Christmas Market in Hibiya Park, however, is about as close to the real deal as you’ll find in Tokyo. Centered around a 14-meter-high wooden Christmas installation, hawked all the way over here from a German village, and peppered with stalls selling festive food and mulled wine, it’s a little microcosm of wintry middle Europe plonked in the heart of the Japanese capital. The market runs through December 25. 

Ginza Six Gourmet Xmas

Christmas Day dinner demand in Tokyo may be at all time high this year with the vast majority of foreign residents staying in Japan to celebrate the holidays. But if you still haven’t organized anything, you may not have missed the boat just yet. Ginza Six has created a PDF book displaying various gourmet offerings throughout the department store (along with some food-themed artwork). Whether you want regional Indian cuisine at Tamarind, antipasto at Piccolo Merca, or classic French cuisine at BISTRO AUX AMIS, there’ll be a whole host of gustatory fare lining the Ginza Six tables on December 25.

Ginza Six New Year Sale & a Free Noh Performance

From January 2–17, Ginza Six will also be holding a winter sale. Discount specs and sale dates within the two-plus-week window will vary from store to store. However, 90% of the shops are set to run some exclusive discounts, ranging from 10% to 50% off selected items. Included are BARBOUR, World Footwear Gallery, MARK’STYLE TOKYO, See By Chloé, DIESEL BLACK GOLD, VERSACE, and many more. 

Additionally, the huge Edo-mae-style kadomatsu will resume its annual occupancy in Ginza Six from December 26 through January 7. This bamboo decoration is typical of the style of offering placed at shrines asking for a bountiful harvest in the year ahead. To welcome 2021, The Kanze Noh Theater on the B3 floor will also hold a free performance of the “GINZA SIX New Year Noh” on Saturday, January 2.

Lucky Bags at Tokyu Plaza

Fukubukuro are another end-of-year fixture sure to appear in Ginza as December comes to a close. Literally translated as “lucky bags,” fukubukuro stem from an old Edo Period superstition that merchants shouldn’t kick off a new year with old merchandise and are now a mainstay of Japan’s consumer culture. 

At Tokyu Plaza in Ginza, you can grab your own fukubukuro, which will be filled with brand-new undisclosed gift items. As you may expect, Tokyu Plaza’s lucky bags aim for a certain level of sophistication; the shops involved are TWG Tea, Neal’s Yard Remedies, Weleda organic cosmetics, and more. 

New Menus at Ginza’s Spice Lab

Spice Lab, one of Ginza’s most innovative restaurants, where the dishes fuse Japanese seasonal ingredients with brash Indian flavors, is rolling out two new menus in the coming weeks. Coming off the back of it’s one-year anniversary at the beginning of December, Spice Lab has unveiled its eight-course Christmas dinner running from December 23–25. The culinary symphony features a pumpkin, ginger and truffle soup, wagyu tenderloin with sweet potato and chestnuts, and a healthy serving of Perrier-Jouët champagne. If that’s got your taste buds going, following the holidays, they’ll be unleashing a new winter menu for 2021.

One Last All-You-Can-Eat Shabu Shabu at Merino Ginza

For something less refined, but no less wholesome, Merino Ginza, a yakiniku restaurant specializing in jingisukan lamb (lamb grilled on convex skillets resembling the headwear worn by “Genghis Khan”), is offering discounts on its most popular course. From December 21–27, each customer tackling the all-you-can-eat lamb shabu and tongue shabu course will get a discount of ¥1,000. The offer comes as the restaurant sets to relocate in 2021, and is a thanks to all customers who have given it their patronage over the preceding years.

Tsutaya Art Book Clearance

At Ginza’s Tsutaya Bookstore, from December 26 through January 24, you can find the “ART BOOK CLEARANCE 20/21”, whereby (mostly foreign) vintage artbooks will have their usually steep price tags slashed. The books include works by graffitist Jean-Michel Basquiat, original issues of culture and art mag Plexus, and Chanel: The Impossible Collection. On-sale items will be between 10–80% off and indicated by stickers on the respective books.

Know of anything exciting coming up in Ginza soon? Anything to add to the list? Send us tips at [email protected]