Getting festive in Japan on a budget

Tuesday, 13 December 2016

Those of you who know me well know just how much I adore Christmas - December is by far my favourite month of the entire year. I love the magic of Christmas, the decorations, the excuse to get together with loved ones, all the food and drink, shopping for presents, wrapping presents (whilst listening to Mr Buble on repeat), the films, the music, that warm fuzzy feeling when you wake up on Christmas morning - everything about Christmas makes me happy.

When planning our trip away at first I was quite reluctant to be away from home during Christmas, as I couldn't imagine not spending it with my family and friends, but after thinking it through I realised it was only one Christmas out of loads, and it would be so amazing to experience Christmas in another country with Craig. With this said I still had one condition... We spent Christmas in a cold country. As Japan is very much cold at Christmas time we decided it was the perfect place to spend the holidays.

Although Japan aren't a Christian country, boy do they do Christmas! From spectacular light displays, to Christmas songs in all the shops, they really do go all out on festivities. Where we are currently staying in Harajuku is particularly festive, with dozens of warm snugly coffee shops covered in fairy lights alinning the streets and shops filled with festive food and gifts - to say our travelling budget has been put to the test would be a huge understatement! If you're like me and need to go all out at Christmas time BUT are travelling around Japan on a budget here are some of my top tips on getting festive without breaking the bank...

1. DAISO! Think of a better quality, Japanese pound land. This place is great for decorations, wrapping paper, Santa hats, gift tags - you name it! After becoming adamant that we wanted a Christmas tree we wander in and out of loads of beautiful little florists selling real trees only to be gutted when the price was well over £100. Don't fear though because we found a great one for 300 yen (about £1.50) in Daiso. Along with our small (but perfectly formed) tree we purchased tinsel, some baubles, gift wrap and a Christmas banner - all coming to under £10!

2. Do it yourself. My next tip involves a bit of DIY. If you're a bit artsy fartsy like myself then I highly recommend getting creative and making your own decorations. We went to a shop called 'The Flying Tiger' known as 'Tiger' back home in England and bought some glittery pom-poms and some gold craft wire. I then snipped off 10cm pieces and pushed them through each pom-pom, then I carefully tied the wire into a loop at the top and TA-DA a little makeshift bauble. Not only do they look super cute but they are also fun to make and add a personalised touch. We also picked up some fairy lights and some extra decorations for around 1000 yen. Along with making our own baubles we also managed to find loads of pinecones and even some broken off pine tree branches, these are completely free and make amazing decorations. I used some of the craft wire to tie round some of the pinecones to hang them off our tree. As for the pine tree branches they look amazing with s few fairy lights wrapped around them!

3. Thrift shops. Tokyo (Harajuku in particular) has possibly the best selection of second hand vintage shops I have ever seen - and by far the cheapest prices! I'm talking Christmas Disney jumpers for about £8. I have already spent hours in them, rummaging through trying to find some hidden gems - so far We Go, Chicago, Kilo and Flamingo have been my favs. As the prices are so good me and Craig have decided to get each other a few little bits as gifts for Christmas and to me nothing says Christmas quite like a retro Christmas jumper...

4. Festive pamper treats. Around Christmas time I enjoy nothing more than a hot bubbly festive bath (normally filled with Lush goodies) - here in Japan is no exception. We are lucky enough that the Air BnB we are staying in over the holidays has a huge western style bath so I will be sure to treat myself to a few Lush products (yes Lush is in Japan) and indulge in a festive dip. Japan also have some amazing quality yet reasonably priced cosmetic shops where I have been able to pick up some little festive pamper treats such as citrus and lavender Aroma Resort body cream (300 yen) and a Santa red and glittery gold Etude House nail polish (250 yen each). I find simple little touches like this make me feel super festive.

5. Cosy up with a Christmas book. I love to read any time of year but for me the winter months are always the best time. Having no room to pack dozens of books in my rucksack, and not owning a kindle, I was gutted when I finished the only book I bought with me on the trip - but we found a solution! A 30 minute walk away in Shinjuku is an enormous book store selling foreign books, called Kinokuniya Bookstore. Although I could of bought so many, in the end I went with 'My True Love Gave To Me' a Christmas book featuring 12 winter romance stories by 12 different authors, edited by Stephanie Perkins. I was surprised to find that the book actually cost no more than it would at home (around £8.99).

6. The last one... Just walk around! I know this sounds daft but honestly if you want to feel festive but are lacking funds in Japan just throw on your warmest outfit and have a walk about - I promise you the twinkling fairy lights, yummy festive smells and busy shoppers will make you feel all warm and Christmassy! I will leave the links below for some of the places I have mentioned.

The Flying Tiger
Kracie (Aroma Resort)
Etude House
We Go
Kinokuniya Bookstore

Elly x

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