If watching the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi gives you the urge to get outdoors to enjoy the snow, then watching the new Olympic Gold Medalist for Men’s Figure Skating from Japan, 19-year-old Yuzuru Hanyu, will make you want to explore ice skating! Now through March 2, 2014 you can enjoy Japan’s first rooftop ice skating rink at Sora x Niwa x Ice Park. Located at Matsuya Department Store in Ginza, Sora x Niwa offers an intimate ice-skating rink the offers plenty of seating, a bar that offers warm cocktail drinks & food, and is quite a nice atmosphere for a romantic date, especially in the evening time.
Sora x Niwa x Ice Park actually opened its doors on December 13, 2013. But, with the recent record-breaking snowstorms in Japan, our trip to Sora x Niwa was delayed until now. And to avoid any other weather and public transportation mishaps, we decided to go during the day. Admission price for Adults between the hours of 11:00am – 5:00pm is 1,500 yen each and includes skate rental. You will be given wristbands to wear which must be shown to the staff member when selecting your skates. Not to worry if you don't know your shoe size in centimeters. The friendly staff will determine that for you if given your US size.
Before we get started, there are some things to note:
- Gloves are required! Bring your own or pay 200 yen for rental.
- Rough skating such as rotating, jumping, etc. is strictly prohibited
- Skaters must following a counter-clockwise path
- Smoking is permitted in designated areas only
- Drinking & skating is strictly prohibited
- Safe-keep your valuables in the lockers provided, if necessary
- Sora Niwa Ice Park does not take any responsibility for any damage of photographing devies
Let’s get to the ice! The rink itself measures a depth of 17m × 7m wide, so it's much smaller than other ice rinks in Tokyo. If you’re new to the world of ice skating, there are several things to assist you. I found most skaters cruised along the wall while holding onto its ledge. Once you finally get the courage to let go and skate on your own, there’s a cushioned island to save you from falling. Well, that’s if you’re near it! Lastly, there are a few orange, seal-shaped plastic animals available on the ice, that I’m sure were meant for pushing small children, but I definitely used to my benefit. It helped me skate a little faster as I pushed it along like a shopping cart!
We took a few breaks in the comfy lounge areas and decided to try a sweet treat from the bar. For 1,000 yen we ordered churros. It came with plain, strawberry & chocolate flavors and included caramel and chocolate dipping sauces. Yum! If you have a bigger appetite, they offer items such as clam chowder, minestrone, hot chocolate, and some cocktails like hot sangria, hot mojito, and hot wine. Sounds like a winning combination for those chilly evening nights!
According to the Sora x Niwa website, if you arrive after 7:00pm they offer some really cool activities for the romantics such as full-scale telescopes, one free Polaroid picture, falling snow on the hour at 7pm, 8pm & 9pm, and news, entertainment & movies on the small screens along the walls.
To access Sora x Niwa x Ice Park at Matsuya Ginza, take Ginza Station Exit 12-13 from Tokyo Metro Ginza Line, Marunouchi Line, or Hibya Line. Have a great time!