Monday, December 26, 2011

Date Night: Christmas Eve Lights (Part 1 of 2)

(Last year's lights, part 1 and part 2)

I love Christmas in Japan. I see lots of the same marketing stuff I saw in the States (Santa, bows, trees with lights, reindeer, red/green/gold, etc.), but it's like seeing things through a slightly different filter. Evidence of this later.

First stop around sunset: Ginza, the ritzy neighborhood of shopping and overpriced drinks. I think we just missed some sort of parade, a major street was blocked off for traffic but unblocked shortly after we arrived.
I love Tokyo at night.

The streets were lined with abstract wing sculptures in a handful of different styles.

The globe in front of the wings has a different image on each, they appear to be children's drawings.

Jewelry store in the seasonal gift-giving spirit:

Random interesting clock on the street tells you the time, day, date, and maybe the temperature:

Toy store, definitely in the gift-giving spirit. Look at all the lights!
The person in a white jumpsuit is dressed as a snowman.
My favorite part of this front-of-store display is the guy dressed as a reindeer, riding a toy horse that is also dressed as a reindeer.
Remember what I said about experiencing Christmas through a slightly different filter?
This is what I was talking about.

We wandered through a shopping plaza advertising a Christmas Bazaar sale, and found these fabulous dresses. Holy rhinestones, Batman!

They're so very fancy and over-the-top that I can't decide if I love them or hate them...I think I love that they exist, but I can't picture myself ever wearing one with that many plastic beads.

We also passed by a sausage shop. We didn't go in, but if you ever have an overpowering urge to buy sausage in Tokyo, there's a shop in Ginza that can help you.
The tree gets to be inside, the sausage man does not.

Next stop: Roppongi, the neighborhood for partying with foreigners, going to art museums, and getting lost in shopping centers. A curious mix of upscale and brash.

There were several areas in Roppongi to see, each with its own charm.

Random walkway with neat structure.

Tokyo Midtown's crown jewel of holiday illuminations is a 7-minute animated light show with music.

The dome in the center lights up to mimic flowers growing, fire flickering, the aurora borealis (I think), and the globe turning (added detail of Santa in a sleigh shooting around like a comet).

To get an idea of the scale, look at all the people lined up around the edge of the light garden and in the three floors of the mall in the background.

Nearby was a very small garden of regular, non-LED-trees.

Don't fret, there were LED trees just across the sidewalk.
And people taking each other's photo in front of them.

Giant TV screen full of holiday cheer:

I have no idea what this guy is advertising, but he's wearing a Santa suit and a cardboard sign on his face. The cardboard sign is also wearing other signs.

If you look closely at this photo, you can see the creepy spider sculpture menacing a Christmas tree made of glowing roses.
Again, it's not quite like the Christmas images I'm used to, but it's spectacular.

Random spider-free flowerbeds.

This area has a giant shopping center. I completely forgot until we walked through it that they have a Christmas Market with little booths selling nothing but Christmas kitch and sausage-based snacks.

The only place I've seen statues of Santa and angels and the nativity is here, on top of the store booths (and on base, but for the sake of my observation those don't count).

...and a Christmas tree over a doorway thrown in for good measure.

Outside, most of the people on the left of this photo are leaning over into the street and taking this exact same picture of Tokyo Tower.

Random advertisement. Sadly, we had just missed the last performance.

From a balcony, we had a clear view of the courtyard illuminations. After taking this picture, we went down to street level to wander through.

The curvy wall had a constantly moving pattern like waves on the sand, and I think there was also music for atmosphere.

Last tree photo on the way to the train station:
My camera gets mad at me for taking pictures of bright lights in darkness.

In the station we saw a couple in their late 30's with a stroller full of puppies. Before you judge them, dog strollers aren't uncommon here. I think it's partly because you can't take animals on the train unless they are in a container, and a stroller is easier to handle than animal crates.

At any rate, I asked if it would be okay for me to take a picture. Not only did they say I could, but the woman set the lock on the stroller so it wouldn't roll away, grabbed a toy from the back and ran over to wave it behind me so the dogs would look at the camera.
Three out of four ain't bad.

Bonus dog in an ad on the train platform!
I think it's the Softbank dog, but I'm not sure what the ad is for.

Last stop: our own train station's shopping center.

At one end of the mall is this:

At the other end:

Christmas cake is everywhere in December. There are some variations, but the most common is a yellow, sponge, or shortcake covered in whipped cream and decorated with strawberries. I had been saying that we didn't need to get one this year but when we walked by our local bakery it was almost closing time and all the cakes were on sale, so we got one.

The cake itself is nothing special (regular cake), but it's beautiful and every one of those fruits is just as delicious as it looks. There are also strawberries in the whipped cream between the layers.

I hope your Christmas Eve was just as sparkly and full of delight as mine.

Link to Part 2

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