Christmas may not be a public holiday in Japan, but the country more than makes up for it by dedicating the entire month of December to it. The last month of the year is full of holiday decorations, colorful light installations and cakes, followed by even more cakes. Here’s what Christmas in Yokohama offers this year.
Treat Yourself This Holiday Season
The idea of Christmas markets supposedly goes back to 14th-century Germany. So, it makes sense that, in Japan, that tradition would be continued at the Yokohama Red Brick Warehouse, which has long been the setting of many German-inspired events. The historic complex will once again transform into a European-style Christmas Market with lights, music and booths selling all sorts of food and drink. Check it out to get a little taste of the holidays in one stunning location.
When: Until Dec 25
Where: 1-1 Shinko, Naka-ku
Admission: Free (Weekdays, Saturdays and Sundays between Nov 26 and Dec 5).
¥300 (Saturdays and Sundays between Dec 11 and Dec 25, Dec 23, Dec 24)
Strawberry shortcake is one of the most popular Christmas cakes in Japan. Hotel New Grand is, therefore, making the strawberry the star of this year’s Christmas dessert fair. Starting on December 1, The Cafe in the hotel will be serving up such treats as strawberry parfaits, strawberry tarts, strawberry cakes and classic shortcakes made with Japanese Amaou strawberries.
When: Until Feb 28
Where: 10-Yamashita-cho, Naka-ku
For the most decadent Christmas cakes in Yokohama, visit the InterContinental Yokohama Grand. There, you’ll have your choice between the classic “Strawberry Symphony” shortcake, the decorative “Yule Log Chocolat” cake and the “Christmas Mille-feuille.” Reservations for the cakes will continue until December 15 and the desserts will be available for pickup between December 21 and December 25.
When: Until Dec 15 (reservations), Dec 21–25 (pickup)
Where: 1-1-1 Minatomirai, Nishi-ku
Bask in the Light of Yokohama’s Winter Illuminations
The theme of the 2021 “yorunoyo” light installations is “flow.” Yokohama will be decked out in dazzling lights that symbolize the intersection of people, things and cultures and bring out the essence of Yokohama. The colorful illuminations will try to do that with tunnels and villages of light set up in the city’s port area.
When: Until Dec 26 | 5–9:05pm
Where: 1-5 Shinko, Naka-ku
The Sakura-dori street in the Minato Mirai 21 area is primarily known as one of the city’s premier cherry blossom-viewing sites. In winter, however, it transforms into a magical avenue of light stretching for 500 meters from the east exit of Yokohama Station to the Nippon Maru Sail Training Ship. An additional one-kilometer-long illumination installation will also branch out from Sakura-dori, going all the way towards Bay Quarter Yokohama. This year, the 500,000 lights used in the illumination will be powered entirely by green energy such as solar and wind.
When: Until Feb 13 | 4–11pm
Where: Sakura-dori Avenue, 1-1 Minatomirai, Nishi-ku
Experience Yokohama’s Best December Exhibitions
Japanese castles are the physical embodiment of the country’s rich history. Fans of these mighty fortifications won’t want to miss out on the Castle EXPO 2021. Held over two days, with an additional special night exhibition one day before the event officially kicks off, the expo will be a treasure trove of information about Japanese strongholds featuring models, movies and panel talks.
When: Dec 17–19
Where: 1-1-1 Minatomirai, Nishi-ku
The Moomins, a family of friendly hippo-like trolls created by the author Tove Jansson, are big in Japan. So much so that the country even built a Moomin-themed park and entertainment complex in Saitama. This winter, Moomins will pop in Yokohama too. Check out the exhibition of the Moomin comics that Jansson herself drew for the British Evening News newspaper.
When: Until Jan 10 | 10am-8pm (last admission: 7:30pm)
Where: 2-18-1 Takashima, Nishu-ku
This exhibition celebrates 40 years of the charming clay penguin Pingu. The character was created by German filmmaker Otmar Gutmann for Swiss television and first shown to the public in 1990. However, Pingu’s roots actually go back to a test film shot in 1980, making the anthropomorphic emperor penguin over 40 years old. You can learn that and more at the upcoming exhibition this Christmas in Yokohama.
When: Dec 24–Jan 10 | 11am–5pm (6pm on weekends, last admission 30 minutes before closing)
Where: Yokohama Red Brick Warehouse 1, 1-1 Shinko, Naka-ku
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Top image by Kit Leong via Shutterstock