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Goin’ Japanesque!

Perfect for Christmas! 7 Places in Japan Popular for Holiday Light Illuminations

The year 2016 is winding down to its last month. We imagine your plans are getting booked up for the end of the year. Toward the end of the year, there are many events held within Japan as well. One type of event that shows more and more excitement each year is holiday light illuminations. The city that you are accustomed to seeing gets lit up in pretty lights. Seeing an atmosphere you don’t see every day is mesmerizing.

Today, we would like to introduce some popular places within Japan to see holiday light illuminations. If your schedule is not fully booked yet, we would encourage you to check them out. Title photo by flickr


1. Hyogo Prefecture: Kobe Luminarie

Event Period: December 2nd to December 11th 2016
Place: Kyu-kyoryuchi (Old Foreign Settlement) and Higashi-yuenchi Park, Map

Photo by flickr

It is an event that started in December of 1995 to appease the spirits of those who suffered in the Great Hanshin and Awaji Earthquake that occurred the same year and to pray for the restoration of the city. The year 2016 marks the 22nd time the event is being held. It is held each year as an event that represents Kobe. 

Luminarie means “illuminations” in Italian. The design is created by an artist in Italy, which is reputed for being a center for artistic creation. You should be able to enjoy the view as a work of art that beautifully decorates the winter sky.



2. OSAKA Hikari Renaissance

Event Period: December 14th to December 25th 2016
Place: Area around Osaka City Hall and Nakanoshima Park, Map

Photo by flickr

There are booths selling foods and drinks as well as concerts and events held by street performers. It is an event with a lot of elements for excitement in addition to the illuminations.

There are ‘wall tapestries’ which are illustrations in light against the wall of a building, projection mapping, programs that involve audience participation and much more for visitors to enjoy art made of light.



3. Nagasaki Prefecture: Huis Ten Bosch “Hikari no Okoku (Kingdom of Light)”

Event Period: October 29th 2016 to May 7th 2017
Place: Huis Ten Bosch, Map

Photo by flickr

Huis Ten Bosch is a popular theme park in Sasebo of Nagasaki Prefecture. In the vast space that replicates a Dutch cityscape, there blossoms flowers of each season and visitors can enjoy various attractions. The entire Huis Ten Bosch becomes illuminated in 13 million holiday lights. The way it glimmers is beautiful and dynamic; worth seeing at least once.



4. Tochigi Prefecture: Ashikaga Flower Park “Flower Fantasy – a light flower park”

Event Period: October 22nd 2016 to February 5th 2017
Place: Ashikaga Flower Park, Map

Photo by flickr

It is a flower park located in Tochigi Prefecture, where flowers blossom all year round. It is the only place in Japan that was selected as 1 of 9 “Dream destinations for 2014” by CNN.

Visitors can enjoy the mystical show of illuminations such as the “The Miraculous Great Wisteria” which is Japan’s greatest wisteria tree, a popular tree in the park of over 100 years old decorated in holiday lights, a rose garden made of lights and pyramid of lights.



5. Tokyo: Illuminations in Marunouchi

Event Period: November 10th 2016 to February 19th 2017
Place: Along Marunouchi Nakadori Street, and other places in the district, Map

Photo by flickr

The trees that line Marunouchi Nakadori Street and Otemachi Nakadori Street, which are streets with luxury brand shops, are decorated with over 1million LED lights. The area around Tokyo station becomes filled in an even more elegant and festive mood. It is also an area with many offices so it is an event that excites people as they are getting out of work.  



6. Tokyo: Yebisu Garden Place Winter Illumination

Event Period: November 5th 2016 to January 9th 2017
Place: The center square and other areas of Yebisu Garden Place, Map

Photo by flickr

Ebisu is an area that is popular as a date spot for stylish adults. The Yebisu Garden Place is an easily accessible place located right by the Ebisu station. The place becomes illuminated in a total of about 100,000 lights. At the same time, a market is held by several of the French themed stores and so the event really enhances the Christmas holiday mood.

One of the highlights is the huge Baccarat chandelier that is displayed in the main part of the venue, the center square. It is 8.4 meters high, 4.6 meters wide with a total of 26,471 crystal pieces and 410 lights holding the record for being the largest in the history of Baccarrat. It is a glimmering sight you would want to see at least once.  



7. Chiba Prefecture: Country Farm Tokyo German Village

Event Period: November 1st 2016 to March 31st 2017
Place: Country Farm Tokyo German Village, Map

Photo by flickr

The theme park has “Tokyo” in its name, but it is actually located in Sodegaura, Chiba Prefecture. Within the park there is an open space, attractions, children’s zoo, and flower garden. It is a popular spot to visit with children as they can play and enjoy the natural atmosphere.  

It is also recognized for its holiday light illuminations said to be the largest in Minami Boso. This year, the theme is “great adventure” with a display using about 2.5 million LED lights and illumination display that moves with music. Visitors can be entranced in a beautiful performance of music and lights.



So there you have it; we have introduced some of Japan’s popular illumination displays. Were there any that caught your attention? Each one is unique and so it should make you want to see it at least once. There are some that go on for longer periods of time so we would suggest you tour the different show of holiday lights. How about planning it in your schedule for a fun memory of the winter?

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About the author

I'm interested in general in all things related to culture and fine arts with a focus on movies, art, and design. I hope to introduce to many people all the different sides to Japan in regards to Japanese culture.

View all articles by KAWATA