A temporary skating rink in front of Tokyo Station was officially opened to the public Thursday, marking the first time such an attraction has been featured in the iconic district's annual Christmas festivities.
The 7th Marunouchi Street Park, running full steam until Dec. 25, aims to delight local and international visitors alike in the first Christmas since Japan reopened its borders following COVID-19 pandemic-triggered closures.
The environmentally friendly synthetic ice skating rink on Gyoko-dori, an avenue linking Tokyo Station with the Imperial Palace, will operate daily from 11 a.m. to 9:30 p.m. during the event period, with advance reservations available online, according to the organizers.
The street rink panels feature artwork by Japanese avant-garde artist Yayoi Kusama in collaboration with luxury brand Louis Vuitton, with an art installation in front of Tokyo Station and a pink fish-shaped food truck serving hot drinks also bringing the collaboration to life.
At a pre-opening event held Wednesday, local elementary school students were invited to a talk and skating lesson by Japan's first Olympic figure skating champion Shizuka Arakawa.
"I hope you can all enjoy the sensation of skating not usually experienced in everyday life," said Arakawa, who retired from competitive skating in 2006.
For many children, it was their first time skating on an ice rink made from resin, which is completely absent of ice and the cold that usually accompanies it.
Ryunosuke Matsumoto, a pupil of Ochanomizu Elementary School in Tokyo's Chiyoda Ward who participated in the event, said he enjoyed the experience and that "it was no problem because I have roller-skated before."
"(Ms. Arakawa) was really good, as good as I thought," the 10-year-old added. "It makes me want to try harder."
In the nearby Marunouchi Naka-dori street, a small Christmas market, street piano and fluffy benches flanked by dazzling trees have further transformed the area into a winter wonderland.
This year, visitors can also ride a merry-go-round, take selfies at selected spots and try their hand at a ring-toss game for free.