Southern Tower illumination, a view of the trees alone (Photo: Manish Prabhune)

Shinjuku Terrace City Illumination

Beautiful Christmas lights

Southern Tower illumination, a view of the trees alone (Photo: Manish Prabhune)
Manish Prabhune   - 3 min read

Christmas in Tokyo for me is about beautiful illuminations across the city's commercial and shopping areas. I have regularly been visiting the Shinjuku Southern Terrace, just outside the South Exit of JR Shinjuku Station, where the area is lit up with blue and white lights around this time of the year. The venue, easily accessible by JR and Tokyo Metro lines and giving access to commercial establishments like Takashimaya, Lumine for Christmas shopping and the extensive illumination stretching from the Odakyu Department Store to the Southern Tower, attracts a lot of visitors every year.

The illumination starts early, around the middle of November and it goes on well past the festive season until the second week of February, although the best times are before Christmas when the crowds and the festive mood complement the overall experience. The terrace area decorations are mostly done with lights that imitate the shooting stars in line with the Starfall theme. In my first visit many years back, I made the mistake of first doing the shopping and then carrying the bags around during the walk with my family, "trying to enjoy" the illumination. I recommend you enjoy a hands-free experience first and then move on to the shopping activities.

My personal favorite spot is the overhead walkway connecting the Shinjuku Station South Exit and the Southern Terrace area just outside the Starbucks coffee shop, from where the crowds and the traffic, LED lights and the Docomo Tower in the background give a good view of the illumination.

This year there is a train-like structure just opposite the popular Krispy Kreme Doughnuts shop. It is 50 years now since the green version of the Yamanote Line made its debut and the LED train structure is to commemorate the same. The 'night sky' ceiling of Shinjuku MyLord's Mosaic Street is another spot that is decorated quite beautifully every year, with golden and diamond colored lights; lots of couples holding hands walk below the illuminated ceiling.

The complete illumination is powered by renewable energy resource of wind power and is not a burden on the standard power grid as per the promotional material I collected. On the way back from the venue, I continue with my annual routine of a hot cup of coffee with my family at Starbucks, and we watch the crowds pass by with the illumination in background—a near perfect Christmas setup. Now if it would just snow a bit...

Manish Prabhune

Manish Prabhune @manish.prabhune

Travelling to various places and locations in Japan for over 20 years now, I want to share my experiences and also hear about destinations that I still have not been to in the land of the rising sun. Am a photography enthusiast and love to do slow shutter blue hour photography in Tokyo.