Since the pandemic, it’s been more difficult to visit the many European-styled Christmas markets that used to populate Japan. Cancellations and reservation systems kept many people out but this year, after opening its borders once more, Japanese Christmas markets are back!
One that I hear people rave about before the pandemic was the Yokohama Christmas Market, which takes place on the grounds of the famous shopping compound, the Red Brick Warehouse. To get a ticket, you had to buy one online from their ticket-selling partner, Peatix. If you downloaded the Red Brick Warehouse app, you could get the price lowered from 500 yen to 300 yen, which was pretty nice! But you have to act quickly: After December 15, they start charging this entrance fee and they sell out quickly, especially if you want a night ticket (4:00 PM to close). Be diligent!
Yokohama Christmas Market 2022: Food
One of the biggest draws is the copious amounts of food: Most Christmas markets in Japan take on a German theme with other European cultures sprinkled in for good measure. As such, you can find lots of beer, sausages, and soft pretzels to eat at a dizzying number of food stalls. There were nearly twice as many food stalls here as there were shopping stalls, which was surprising to see!
I didn’t have much of an appetite, but I did get some soup in a bread bowl and egg nog. Now, finding egg nog in Japan is very difficult. You can’t be too picky unless you are willing to make it at home yourself, so when I saw I could get a cup for 800 yen, I caved and got some. To put it plainly, it wasn’t very good. The nog lacked any spices in it, which was a really bizarre taste sensation. I think they tried to cover the plain taste with some sugar sprinkles, cream, and marshmallows on top, but that didn’t save it. An effort was made, but so much got lost in translation that this drink I had was unrecognizable from the comfort drink I remember from the States.
Yokohama Christmas Market 2022: The Shopping
This is what I was really looking forward to! There was a hodge-podge of European crafts available, such as Polish pottery and ceramics, Austrian snow globes, German tea and coffee, and Russian Matroska dolls. There were also a few shops selling bottles of spiced wines, should you be a fan of Glögg Wine. A few stalls had some lovely wreaths and live plants, and… that was it. They were all impeccably themed with lovely wooden home facades, a big draw for many, with some nifty lights and decorations on the roofs. My ticket didn’t allow me to stay past 4:00 PM, so I couldn’t see all the awesome illuminations, but seeing how many there were, I’m sure it was quite the sight!
Yokohama Christmas Market 2022: Ice Skating
There was also an ice skating rink next to the market, open to all, regardless if they had a ticket to the market or not. It’s an art installation from the company ArtRink, and this year, they worked with artist Yuya Saito to bring the theme “Dance With Ghosts.” It combined skating with an AR experience involving the murals that surrounded the rink, which were really fun and creative! I didn’t go skating, so I didn’t do the AR experience. It’s still a lovely time, even if you don’t go full AR on this one, regardless! The installation is here through the first few days of February, so even when the market closes, you can still enjoy this skating experience.
Are there any Christmas markets in your area that you enjoy? Let me know if the comments!