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Christmas Lights – at Shinjuku Southern Terrace in 2017

Another year is rapidly drawing to a close.  Christmas is back in Tokyo for another season.  There are various places to see the lights around Tokyo, but for my first visit I went Shinjuku Southern Terrace.  As I only have limited time to shoot recently, I decided to drop in and see them on my home from work, after 9 pm.  I thought the terrace area would have been rather empty at that time, but I was quite wrong.  In fact, there was a fair crowd there, many people on their way home from work, but some were clearly there just to enjoy the lights.

Christmas trees at Shinjuku Southern Terrace and the Yoyogi DOCOMO NTT building in the background

To be honest though, I was a little disappointed.  They just seemed to put last year’s display up again for 2017.  It was a pity they had nothing new.  Are changes necessary every time?  Maybe yes, maybe no, but at least change keeps things fresh and draws interest.  Anyway, people were and looking.  Starbucks did a roaring trade too.

The "ghosts" of Shinjuku Southern Terrace

For those that love a really traditional Christmas, just be aware that many of these light displays (or illumination if you prefer) in Japan are just “light” displays, as they really have little connection to Christmas.  Yes, there are a few trees at the front of the terrace, but there are no Santas, elves, present boxes or the other traditional decorations many people might associate with the festive season.

And this was the first time I used a tripod at the Southern Terrace.  I didn’t see anyone else there with one, which made me momentarily wonder if they were banned, but there were no signs up saying they weren’t allowed so out it came.  As always just keeping all my gear out of the way of other people so they wouldn’t trip over anything was a priority all night.  The tripod allowed me to take longer exposures which I am fond of.  Seeing the crowd “ghost” through pictures adds a very surreal touch.

Many areas around Tokyo are lit up for the Christmas season and some go well into January.  Next week I will probably shoot the Marunouchi lights.  If you’ve been to any good displays in Tokyo, please let me know what they are like and leave a comment below.  You can see Shinjuku Southern Terrace’s (Japanese) website here.

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