Tokyo Apartments Rent Blog - December 2012

Christmas Church Services in Tokyo


For the most part, Japan is a non-secular country.  While there are traditional ties to Shintoism and Buddhism the lives of many are relatively religion free.  Although Japan is not a Christian country, during the holiday season Japanese people do celebrate Christmas.  Festive decorations deck the city in impressive illumination.  Santa Claus can be seen around every corner.  Outside of the neighborhood KFC there is usually a life-sized statue of Colonel Sanders playfully dressed in a Santa suit.  Traditional carols and popular holiday tunes fill the air.  You can also get a nice helping of Gospel music, which is sung as a celebration of joy and holiday cheer.  Department stores are packed with Christmas shoppers, just as they would be anywhere else in the Christian world.   In Japan, Christmas is a time to exchange gifts with friends, to celebrate at parties around the city, and to go out on a date.   On Christmas Eve young couples have been known to spend exorbitant amounts on five star dinners and hotels.  Because of this many of Tokyo’s restaurants raise their prices on Christmas Eve then lower them again on December 26th.

Although it would seem that religion has been removed from this important religious holiday, there are quite a few Japanese Christians.  If you would like to go to church services to celebrate the birth of Jesus then there are quite a few options available in English.

Tokyo Lutheran Church

This church is located in Shinjuku.  It is quite easy to get to from most parts of Tokyo.  This year Tokyo Lutheran Church celebrates its 100th anniversary.  It was founded in 1912 and moved to the present location in 1923.  The English Worship Service was started in 1988 to better serve the English speaking community.  English Worship with Holy Communion is on Sundays from 10:00am ? 10:50am.  English Fellowship time is from 11:00am ? 11:30am.  For more information about Christmas services please contact the church by phone, email or visit their website.

Saint Alban’s Anglican Episcopal Church

Saint Alban’s is centrally located near Tokyo Tower just a short walk from Kamiyacho Station on the Hibiya Subway line.  Just as their webpage will tell you, they have a lively multi-national English Speaking congregation.  In fact their site states that they are the only English-speaking congregation among the 35 Anglican churches and seven chapels in the Diocese of Tokyo.   The first congregation gathered in 1954 and services have continued till today.  Please call or email them for more information on Christmas services.   Contact information can be found on their website.

St. Ignatius Church

St. Ignatius Church is a one-minute walk from Yotsuya Station.  This church was established in 1949.  There are English and Japanese services available.  The church is also designed with many features that make it easily accessible for the handicapped.  As of December 31, 2011 the church has 14,878 parishioners.  Although English and Japanese are the main languages, services are also held in Spanish, Portuguese, Indonesian, and Polish.  The church building is a beautiful modern design and is situated on a lovely green estate.  For more information about Christmas services feel free to call or write.  All information can be found on their website.

Tokyo Union Church

The Tokyo Union Church is an ecumenical church that accepts all faiths.  It was founded in 1872 in Tsukiji.  It has developed into a ministry to Christians from many nationalities, races, and denominations.  Tokyo Union Church is a five-minute walk from Omotesando Station.  Christmas Eve candlelight services as well as Christmas day services in English are available.  For more information on the schedule and how to contact them please visit their website.

Photos by Marcellus Nealy

Kid’s Castle


The question has come up again and again.  Where does one go to entertain the kids in this giant megalopolis called Tokyo?  The most obvious answer to that question is Tokyo Disneyland.  The only problem is that Tokyo Disneyland is actually not in Tokyo nor is it convenient, unless you live on the eastern edge of the city.   The other problem is that you can only take your kids there once in a while.  If you are like most parents, you want a place you can consistently go to that offers a variety of engaging and enriching activities.  You also want a place that doesn’t take a heroic effort to visit.
Why not try Kodomo No Shiro (Kid’s Castle)? It is located in Aoyama, which is easily accessible from anywhere in central Tokyo.  According to the website, the Castle was built in commemoration of the International Year of the Child in 1979, the Castle officially opened on November 1, 1985. The purpose of the Castle is to offer a place where children can develop healthy, happy, energetic, minds and bodies. To meet these goals, the Castle endeavors to provide artistic, athletic, healthy, inventive, imaginative and cultural opportunities that challenge and encourage the individual potentials in each child.
In the Castle there are several floors where kids can keep themselves busy.  On the B2 level there is a sport gym, swimming pool and fitness check room where your children can participate in a variety of athletic activities that have been designed to help them stay fit while they have fun socializing with other children.  On the second floor is a gallery that features art and various creative workshops.  There is also a family lounge where parents and children can spend quality time together between activities. On the third floor parents and children can participate in a variety of arts and crafts projects or catch a performance in Kodomo No Shiro’s famous circular theater.   There is also a wonderful super jungle gym style play room where kids can go to swing, climb, jump, and run themselves into exhaustion. For those kids who are more into modern technology there is also a computer room where guided activities will help them learn important technical skills.  The activities are so fun you might not want to tell your children that they are actually learning something.
On the fourth floor of Kodomo No Shiro there is a video library that boasts over 20,000 titles.  You could take your kids there to see some of their favorite movies.  On the same floor is a music lobby full of an eclectic variety of musical instruments that are waiting to be plucked, banged, and played into life under the guidance of one of the facilities expert instructors. Mini concerts or music games, which your children can sign up for, are held in the music room.  There is also a nursing room for breast-feeding moms. 
To top it all off you will find a roof garden on the 5th floor where kids can go to ride mini bicycles, run, and play with other children.  There is also a medical center there to make sure you are covered in the unfortunate event your child becomes sick or injured while playing at the Castle.
With so much happened every day, Kodomo No Shiro in Aoyama is the perfect place to go if you want to keep your little ones busy and happy.  For more information call 03-3797-5677 or visit their website
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Buying Clothes In Tokyo


One of the most frustrating experiences for many foreigners living in Tokyo is shopping for clothes.  I envy the petit.  They can flit about the offbeat and fashionable shops of Harajuku and have the time of their lives uncovering fashion treasures.  For the rest of us, all but the most random shops in Tokyo’s cool fashion districts are a hopeless reminder of how far away from home we truly are.  There is some hope, albeit not as expressive as a Harajuku boutique.

Isetan Shinjuku

Perhaps the most foreigner friendly place to shop in Tokyo is Isetan Department Store in Shinjuku.  They offer a good variety of well-known designer brands ina wide range of sizes.  You can find everything there from the ultra posh to weekend casual.  Like all department stores their buyers tend to cater to average tastes so you probably won’t find anything too outlandish.  You will, however, be able to find everything you need to dress well.

What sets Isetan far above the rest as a haven for the foreign shopper is the special services they offer.  They have a bilingual customer service center on the 6th floor with staff ready the kindly answer any questions or concerns you may have.  They also offer English, Chinese, and Korean shopping assistants who will personally guide you on your shopping journey through out the Main Building and the Men’s Building.  On the 7th floor there are ATMs that allow you to withdraw money by using cards issued overseas.  Cards that have VISA, VISAELECTRON, PLUS, China Union Pay, Master Card, Maestro, Cirrus, American Express, Diners Club, JCB, or DISCOVER logo will be accepted.They even have a Money exchange machine on the 6th floor that provides exchange for 6 currencies (US Dollar, Chinese Renminbi, Euro, Korean Won, Taiwan Dollar, and Singapore Dollar) to Japanese Yen.

For the ultimate shopping experience in Tokyo it would be very difficult to find a more comfortable and foreign friendly place than Isetan Shinjuku.

Uniqlo Ginza

Uniqlo has managed to dominate the world with its high quality and inexpensive fashion.  This is the place to go to get the basic essentials like socks, underwear, sweats, and lounging casuals.  Quite recently Uniqlo has opened a megastore in Ginza that boasts a good range of sizes and100 employees from around the globe who are ready to help you shop in your language.

Global Fashion Brands

If money is no object then you are in luck.  You can usually find larger sizes at many of the international fashion boutiques like Tommy Hilfiger, Armani, and Gucci.  The Omotesando and Ginza areas two of the most well know spots for finding many of these shops in one location.

For those with slightly less financial freedom you can usually find decent sizes at the Gap, H&M, and Next.


Big B Shoes

Any man who wears anything larger than a size 10 will have a difficult time finding shoes in Japan.  A place that has a enormous selection of men’s shoes is Big B Shoes, which located right next to Gotanda station (Yamanote Line).  Big B specializes inmen’s footwear.  Sizes start from US10 and go all the way up to the unbelievable.  


For women who wear anything larger that a UK 5 1/2, finding a shoe store in Tokyo could be next to impossible.  Luckily there is a shop in Shinjuku called TEN that may be able to help you get a decent pair.  Although their website is in dire need of a designer TEN has a large selection of shoes in sizes UK 6 and above.


When all else fails you could take advantage of the marvelous internet age and do your shopping online.  There are many shops that do international shipping to Japan.  Here are a few of my favorites.

Ted Baker London

Blue Fly

Neiman Marcus

Victoria Secrete

Eddie Bauer

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