By Crystal Branco Confession: I used to think the Christmas season was annoying. The decorations are tacky. The songs are repetitive and unoriginal. People are *too* cheerful. It’s too much work to buy presents and make it wonderful just for […]
By Crystal Branco
Confession: I used to think the Christmas season was annoying. The decorations are tacky. The songs are repetitive and unoriginal. People are *too* cheerful. It’s too much work to buy presents and make it wonderful just for the big day to be over by 10:00am Christmas Day. I know, I was so pessimistic.
But after my family made a military move to Germany in 2018, I was introduced to German winter holiday traditions. With the food stalls, the gorgeous decorations and timbered-house backdrops, the Christmas merchandise for sale, and (last but not least) the Gluhwein, Christmas promptly took over as my favorite holiday of the year. Now we are in Japan and learning that a German Market was just a quick trip by train to Yokohama, attending it was at the top of my Christmas season to-do list.
A Festive Atmosphere
Build over 100 years ago, the Red Brick Market with its tall, leveled western-style buildings and its large cobblestone road dividing the two warehouses is the perfect setting. Throw in the views of the bay and it’s even more spectacular–one could say unique compared to a traditional German Christmas Market.
As for when to go, I’m a sucker for a Christmas Market in the evening. I feel like that’s the best way to get the entire Christmas vibe and to see all of the decorations. Even though I did pass by the market during the day, I did not attend it until well after the sun had set. With the Christmas tree fully lit and the “YOKOHAMA” sign dazzling with the harbor in the background, this is a sight to remember.
Sights and Sounds
Without mentioning the 10-meter high fully lit and decorated Christmas tree again, the fifteen Christmas stalls at the market offer a wide array of food, drink and Christmas merchandise. Aside from the high prices compared to Europe, the costs per booth are not bad in my opinion. Products–like the round painted candle votives you see in European Christmas Markets– are varied, plentiful, and all would be a great addition to anyone’s Christmas decor.
As for the food, it looked great and a lot of visitors were enjoying food from one of the many food stalls offering unique options. Although I didn’t purchase food personally, I waited in line to grab some Gluhwein, a traditional German spiced hot wine. Better yet, I bought some mugs that say “Frohe Weihnachten” (German for Merry Christmas) and have display art of the Yokohama Red Brick Market. Frankly, as a Christmas mug collector (I have dozens!), this really hit the spot. And so did the Gluhwein! The traditional mug (blue) cost 800 yen with gluhwein and the boot mug with gluhwein cost 1000 yen. In my opinion, this price is quite close to a German market’s mug with wine cost. The only difference is you cannot return the mug. Booths offer disposable cups for those wanting just warm drinks. Please bring cash.
Like I said before, we took the train and that was very easy. We left from Fussa Station and only had 2 train changes. However, parking garages are not far from the harbor.
An admission fee of 300 yen is required to enter the market every Saturday/Sunday starting Dec 11 and runs through Dec 25th. Elementary school-aged students and younger are free with an adult.
Once into the Market, expect packed crowds, no matter the time of day. The evening I went, it was shoulder to shoulder and was hard to get from one stall to another. However, I still consider the visit worth it. Just allow extra time to make it to the stalls you want to visit. Strollers are definitely acceptable–just know it might take a bit longer to get through the market. If you make it to the Christmas Tree, it is less crowded and you can enjoy the view of the harbor.
All in all, visiting this market gave me back some much-needed nostalgia and put some extra Christmas Magic in my holiday season. If you’re not a crowd person, this is not for you. If you have never been to a German Market before and wanted to check one out, this is the next best thing in Japan. And if you want to go ice skating as well, it’s available for a fee. Hop in line earlier in the afternoon to avoid a line that wraps around the corner.
Here’s Wishing you a happy start to your Holiday Season!
Yokohama Red Brick Warehouse Christmas Market
Address: 1-1 Shinko Naka-ku, Yokohama, Kanagawa 231-0001
Hours: Please check official website for hours and fees. Advanced registration may be required on weekend dates.