Christmas (Events) In Nagoya

Want To Get Your Festive On?
Daniel Ostrander Has Some Suggestions

After 5 years’ worth of holiday seasons spent in Nagoya, you’d think I’d be able to write this article with the modicum of effort I seem to put in to the Live calendar. Unfortunately, that is not the case, as I all I have gained in those five years is a general understanding that being anywhere but here is preferable. Still, I won’t give up until I find the perfect Nagoya winter plan, or NAG MAG starts paying me enough to fly home in December (I’m going to die writing this article).

Wait, no, I refuse to give in to despair. I’m saving that for my 10th anniversary. Instead I will dive right into the few pools of holiday joy to be found in Aichi this season, and I’m starting with the best: Santa & Friends Nagoya. This favorite local charity works effortlessly year-around to raise toys, money & awareness of the many orphanages in our area. This year they are holding 4 Christmas Events the weekend of December 7 and 8 where the children will get to play games, have a nice meal, open presents and even get to meet Ol’ Saint Nick. They have a lot of work to do, and they need some help. If you’re interested in buying a gift, volunteering your time or both, check them out at or on Facebook.

Nothing says Christmas in Nagoya like illumination (well, that & Col. Sanders in a Santa costume). And while you can catch some twinkling lights just about anywhere you go, the best display is usually up at The Nagoya Orchid Gardens near Yaba-cho station. They’ve upped their wonder-inducing display this year to over 170,000 lights. That, plus all the beautiful flowers they’re famous for, and you’ve got the perfect Christmas date destination. Admission is 700 & children get in for free. The display is open until December 25.

If you’re looking for the comforts of home, you can’t do better than a holiday feast. This month all the usual suspects will be offering turkey dinners with all the fixin’s, including Coat of Arms and Shooters in Fushimi and The Red Rock in Sakae. Or, if you are brave enough and find yourself with an oven, you could cook for yourself. It’s never been easier to get your hands on holiday meat.  Besides the brand new Costco, local businesses and will deliver all you need straight to your home.

There are many things you want to do on New Year’s Eve. Losing four hours of your life to the Kōhaku TV special is not one of them. If your significant other suggests this as an end of the year date: congratulations, you’re now single and can go to the real parties!

Every establishment with a bar and a stereo will be holding their own version of a countdown party, with the ubiquitous silly hats and crackers. But you’re going to want to count down in style. The Obvious Circus has you covered there, providing the soundtrack at Nagoya’s best New Year parties: including DJ dij at Coat of Arms, Ghost of Matsubara & DJ scrying at the Red Rock and DJ Andy S. and the Natural Rhythm crew over at Shooters. And just down the street from there, The Elephant’s Nest will be doing their end of the year party pub-style. I’m not 100% on what that means, but I assume it involves football on the telly and Guinness in the pints.

After the countdown and a night’s worth of debauchery, it couldn’t hurt to start the New Year with a clean slate. Perhaps a little hatsumode is what you need. The first visit to a temple or shrine for the year is a favorite Japanese tradition, which may have something to do with the ceremonial sake being passed around. Many of Nagoya’s holy sites will be open before and after midnight, but the Osu Kanon Temple is by far the most popular destination.  Be prepared to wait in line for an hour or so to ring that bell and get your omikuji, but it’s worth it.

OK, I’ll admit, there’s a lot of fun to be had this season in Nagoya. All things considered, it could be worse. I could be stuck in Tokyo instead.

Happy Holidays, one and all.

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