Things to do / Cultural/Entertainment

Be merry with yuletide joy at Christmas markets

If you see a wreathed entrance arch announcing "Willkommen zum Weihnachtsmarkt" ("Welcome to the Christmas Market"), you may second-guess yourself and wonder if you have somehow been teleported to Germany.

However, it is more likely that you've come across the square by Umeda Sky Building in the heart of Osaka, which is hosting the German Christmas Market Osaka until Dec. 25 (www.skybldg.co.jp/event/xmas/01). Visitors will be surrounded by the yuletide spirit as they stroll around and take in the joyful sights. You can't miss the massive conical tree lit up with festive lights or the German-style wooden huts offering traditional craftworks and refreshments such as sausages and mulled wine.

On top of that, one of the event's main attractions is an antique merry-go-round, which was made in Bremen in 1896. Visitors are encouraged to take a ride on the decorated horses with a loved one — it's sure to put you in a merry mood!

Of course, Osaka doesn't get to have all the holiday fun. There will be plenty of Christmas markets taking place across Japan. For example, Shiba Park in Tokyo (Dec. 6-25; tokyochristmas.net) and the Edion Hisaya Hiroba square in Hisaya Odori Park, Nagoya (Dec. 7-23; www.tokai-tv.com/xmasmarket2019) both will be decked out from this weekend with seasonal illuminations and filled with food and gift stalls.

Don't forget, each of the fairs will be furnished with an eye-catching Christmas fixture perfect for taking holiday photographs. The market in Shiba Park will feature a towering German Christmas pyramid, a decoration that is said to have a longer history than the Christmas tree, and the market in Hisaya Odori Park is set to display an impressive authentic fir tree adorned with lights, baubles and gold braids.

Adding to the festive spirit of those three fairs will be live musical performances. The entertainment certainly helps create a jolly mood, but if you're looking for more to do, be sure to check out the workshops where you can make your own Christmas decorations.

Good little children will be delighted to not only get a glimpse of Santa Claus, but also have a chance to tell him what presents they want for Christmas. Check the event websites beforehand to make sure you're there when old St. Nick is scheduled to show up. (Yuki Yamauchi)