Tokyo goes to town over Christmas
Monday 06 December 2010
For a nation that does not actually celebrate Christmas, the Japanese really do go to town when the festive season comes around.
Tokyo's upmarket Omotesando district is lit up with 900,000 light-emitting diodes strung through the 153 trees that line the 1-km long street. Last year, a mere 630,000 lights were left twinkling in the crisp night air, but organizers this year wanted to mark the 90th anniversary of the founding of the Meiji Shrine, which stands at the western end of the road.
Omotesando Hills, the up-market shopping center on the north side of the street, has erected a Christmas tree decorated with no fewer than 250,000 crystal ornaments.
Operators of restaurants and shops along Omotesando street - including upmarket brand-name boutiques for Prada, Louis Vuitton and Tag Heuer - hope the lights will attract new customers before they are switched off for another year on January 3.
Across Tokyo, in the Marunouchi district, another 850,000 champagne-gold colored diode bulbs have been used to decorate the area around Tokyo Station. Organizers say they are doing their bit for the environment because the lights need only one-third of the electricity of previous light shows but they burn just as brightly.
The Tokyo Tower has not escaped the festive preparations already - although as it is painted red and white it is arguably already decorated. The operator of the tower has added a 15-meter tall Christmas tree at the base of the tower, reportedly one of the largest in Tokyo this year, from Gunma Prefecture. The city's department stores - which also take their decorations very seriously at this time of year - will have to go some way to top a 15-meter tree.
But no one has yet topped the Christmas display at an aquarium in the coastal town of Enoshima, south of Tokyo. The aquarium is using a huge electric eel to power the lights on its 2-meter tree. Every time the eel moves, two aluminum plates collect sufficient energy to light up the tree with intermittent flashes.
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