3 Impressive winter illuminations in Japan

Nowadays Japan is also famous for its impressive winter illumination events that take place around Christmas and New Years’ time. It has become the most popular winter activity, the illuminations are usually being set up in November and December in different towns and cities all over Japan. In some places, the illuminations are displayed as early as in October and run till spring. We have chosen 3 most extraordinary Japanese winter illuminations of 2019-2020 winter for you to visit and experience it yourself!

1. Nabana no Sato

Nabana no Sato is a theme park and a botanical garden located in Kuwana city. This place is visited by many for its flowers and vegetation, but mostly for the lights installations. The winter illuminations event Nabana no Sato is huge, the display consists of 8 million LED lights laid out through 210 km2 area. It has fairytale-like installations of all kinds of shapes and colors: mountains, flowers, oceans and many more, moreover you can find some good restaurants and shops in the area. The whole event area can be divided into several areas:

  • The central spot of this event that has a different theme each year – the main area this season represents Sakura trees. It has 12 different displays of cherry blossoms.
  • The river of lights – where the surface of the river is lit by 120 meters long lights.
  • A pair of Tunnels of Light – each tunnel is more than 100 meters long and fully illuminated by lights in the shape of flowers.

Nabana no Sato lights event starts in the middle of October and lasts until May. There is an admission fee of 1,500 yen per visitor and 2,000 yen during the busy months of the event. The ticket includes a voucher worth 1,000 yen that you can spend in the restaurants and other facilities in the event area.

2. Kobe Luminarie

Kobe Luminarie is another gorgeous Japanese winter illumination event in the city of Kobe the capital of Hyogo province. The event first took place in 1995 on the 1st of December and was created in memory of the Hanshin-Awaji Earthquake victims. This year the theme of the event was named “Twenty-Five Years, Guided by the Light of Hope” to honor the 25th anniversary. 

Each year the streets of Kobe are illuminated by 200 thousand hand-painted small environment-friendly bulbs, the lights were originally donated by the Italian government, and produced by Italian artistic director Valerio Festi and Kobe native Hirokazu Imaoka.

The festival is free of charge, however, around 4 million of people come to visit the event each year, Kobe Luminarie raises $1.3 million in donations and $6.1 million in sponsorship and merchandise sales. It runs for 12 days, space is illuminated from 6:00 to 9:30 p.m. Monday -Thursday, 6:00–10:00 on Friday, 5:00–10:00 on Saturday, and 5:00–9:30 on Sunday. Kobe Luminarie at the vicinity of Motomachi Station passes through Former Foreign Settlement and extends to Higashi Yuenchi Park.

3. Ashikaga Flower Fantasy

Ashikaga Flower Fantasy Christmas illumination event is a mix of flowers,  lighting displays, and laser shows. The event is located in Ashikaga City famous for the Great Wisteria Festival in Spring. During the winter season, shining lights make even coldest winter nights warmer and cozier! This lights festival is considered to be one of the most astonishing illuminations in Japan. It stands out and impresses by taking up all space in the park, the shows run through the hillside representing the four seasons of Japan.

The illuminations consist of around 5 million of colorful LED lights taking up the space of 94,000 m2. The event has tunnels of light, gazebos, trains, and many more impressive displays. At the popular wisteria park, the lights are inspired by wisteria flowers, the installations embody the life of the flower, from the start of blooming till the fall of petals. Ashikaga Flower Fantasy event also has installations of lotus, rose and other seasonal flowers, as well as other fairytale-like objects as castles and rainbows.

The event starts in late October-early November and lasts until February, the events business hours are 4:30-9:00 pm. The park is closed on the 31st of December. To visit the lights festival area you will have to pay an admission fee of 1,000 yen for adults and 500 yen for children.