Hot Chocolate and Headdresses: Inside Caramel’s Christmas Party in Tokyo
With sparkling eyes and a wide smile, six-year-old Kotone shares a secret: “Actually I’ve never met Santa Claus before. This is my first time. I was so surprised to see him here. I told him I want a Tamagotchi for Christmas – but he knew that already.” The festive season was in full swing in Tokyo this month, with more than 300 visitors, both big and small, descending on the Caramel Daikanyama store for its annual Christmas party.
Cups of creamy hot chocolate on tap, jars of marshmallows and piles of chocolate bars (of the very English Tunnock’s Caramel Wafer variety of course) were among a range of treats on offer. Centre stage were also a string of workshops, with children making flower headdresses fit for festive fairies, adorned with sparkly beads, bells and ribbons, as well as pretty-as-painting Christmas cards using rainbow-bright adornments.
Meanwhile, the store itself was Christmas perfect: there were colourful paper baubles, festive snow globes and a large tree inside the store, plus vases of festive foliage and flickering candle-style lights along its exterior (perhaps a welcome distraction to the lengthy queue of families which gathered outside before the party even started). The scene-stealer, however, was of course one particular VIP guest: a rosy-cheeked Santa Claus, who sat in a comfy armchair by the Christmas tree, where he greeted and chatted with dozens of young guests.
Among the youngest to attend were 10-month-old Kiki and her best friend Kiiro, aged one, who – with a little help from their mothers – took part in one of the popular floral headdress workshops.
“We love coming to Caramel,” confesses Yumeka Miyazaki, mother of baby Kiiro, who behaves as immaculately as she is dressed, in her festive ensemble of rust tights and elm green romper. “We don’t live far from here and I visit at least two or three times a week. I like the English atmosphere of the clothes and also the colours – you can’t find these shades anywhere else, particularly for babies.”
Meanwhile, Akiyo Kajiyama travelled for an hour across Tokyo to attend the party with her three children – six-year-old daughter Yuuka and her two sons Atsushi, 11, and three-year-old Shunsuke.“It was quite far to travel but it was worth it,” says Akiya, her youngest asleep in a baby carrier on her chest and her arms full of festive shopping purchases. “Everyone in the family has had a lot of fun.”
Words by: Danielle Demetriou