It is that time of the year again – Christmas illuminations and decorations are up all over Tokyo Midtown and the crowds are as thick as usual! Midtown is strangely photogenic so I can’t resist taking some pictures every time I pass through the area, and every year something changes slightly in their decorations. The Christmas tree though, is the same year after year and as popular as ever.
The illuminations in the park behind Midtown are always crowded and are scheduled to run until December 25th. Most of the crowds tend to stay at the bottom of the field though, and if you don’t mind walking a little up the field it is usually not crowded at all up there. In Japan Christmas is not a big family event, it is more for young couples enjoying a romantic night out. “Older” couples tend to order fried chicken and cake and have a quiet night in. Me, I will be working all through Christmas!
Tokyo Midtown is the second to newest huge “center” in here in Tokyo, a massive building complete with offices, shops, restaurants, galleries, gardens, clinics etc. It is in Roppongi, the hub of Tokyo’s nightlife. Like all the major centers of Tokyo they have pulled no punches when it comes to putting on the Christmas displays including any number of Christmas trees. I think this tree, made up of little santas were also in place last year but I had a good time watching all the people thronged around taking pictures of it. Despite the fact that there are very few Christians in Japan, Christmas is really popular here. I took these photos last night when I passed the area to see the Christmas light show, more photos to come!
It’s Christmas Eve. Here’s some nicely non-Christmasy Christmas decorations for you, part of this years huge marketing effort from the Marunouchi area commercial groups. Tokyo is not on a very northernly latitude but still it does get dark very early in the winter so the lights help cheer us. The decoration in Marunouchi is much more luxurious than most areas though, as befits “Japan’s Wall Street”.
Nothing beats window shopping, especially in a country like Japan where the prices are high and the window decorations are fantastic. Here’s the latest christmas window decoration campaign from Isetan in Tokyo’s Shinjuku district called “How to Make Wonder Christmas”. While their copy writers will never win gold medals they sure struck gold when they found the amazing Finnish illustrator Klaus Haapaniemi to decorate their shops from inside and out. The windows are meant to be seen in a series and shows a christmas fairy tale in each window, 12 in all. The characters from the story then returns inside the store as statues, ceiling decorations and floor stickers. At the information desk you can pick up beautiful little pamphlets with more details of the story.
The shop windows are even animated and interactive with a live video feed that will track your face on the sidewalk and add animated features to turn you into a reindeer- or an owl-character on an in window-display. Fun for all ages. They also have a service where you can download animations for your cellphone and a campaign site. If you are in Tokyo over christmas, I recommend you stop by Isetan in Shinjuku and see the cutting edge in store window design.
Edit (2010 August 31st): I just found the redesign Klaus Haapaniemi made of one of my favorite books ever, Patrick Süskind’s “Perfume”. Have a look here! His book designs are absolutely gorgeous!