One of the things that makes the cold of autumn and winter bearable in Japan are the gorgeous illumination events. Across Japan, there are light up events of varying scales and styles. Unfortunately, due to the pandemic last year, most of these events were cancelled and winter was truly miserable for many. With the easing of restrictions, this year, Japan will see many of its famous illumination shows once again.
In this feature, we introduce 10 illuminations with published scheduled dates. Make a note for your next trip!
1. The 41st Sapporo White Illumination
The Sapporo White Illumination is the most popular winter light event in Hokkaido. The venue is divided into Odori Site, Minami-Ichijodori Site, and Sapporo Kita-sanjo Plaza Site. One of its characteristics is the wide area it covers and its scale. It was first held in 1981 and has given people of Hokkaido immense joy since.
Period: Odori Site, Nov 19 – Dec 25, 2021; Minami-Ichijodori Site, Nov 19, 2021 – March 14, 2022; Sapporo Kita-sanjo Plaza Site, Nov 19, 2021 – March 14, 2022.
Official Website: https://white-illumination.jp/
2. 2021 Sendai Pageant of Starlight
First held in 1986, the scale of this event is much smaller than others but there is a beautiful warmth to the whole setup. The philosophy behind this event is “Step for new hope.” It’s what you surely need to get through the tough winters in northern Japan.
Period: Dec 1, 2021 (Wed) – Dec 25, 2021 (Sat)
Official Website: https://sendaihikape.jp/
3. Ashikaga Flower Park: The Garden of Illuminated Flowers
This is considered one of the three major illumination events in Japan. Ashikaga Flower Park is famous for its massive wisteria flower trellis. Even though there will be no wisteria in autumn and winter, you will be delighted by the various plants and flowers dressed in lights. The visual impact is quite shocking for many. If there’s one illumination you must see, it is this one.
Period: Light and Flower Collaboration, mid-Oct – mid-Nov, 2021; Flower Park Christmas, from end of Nov 2021; New Year Illumination, Jan 1, 2022 – Feb 14, 2022.
Entry Fee: Adults 1100 yen; Children 600 yen (Admission fee varies for daytime and nighttime)
Official Website: https://www.ashikaga.co.jp/flowerfantasy_special2021/jp/
4. Roppongi Hills Keyakizaka Illumination
In the Roppongi area of Tokyo, the Keyakizaka Illumination announces the arrival of winter. Like every year, this 400-m long road will be dressed in white and silver, which symbolizes the world of ice and snow in winter. A crowd favorite and particularly popular among couples for date night.
Period: Nov 10 – Dec 25, 2021
Official Website: https://www.roppongihills.com/sp/christmas/2021/illumination-event/keyakizaka.html
5. Roppongi Midtown Christmas 2021
Roppongi Midtown and its surrounding area is quite cool and fashionable. Adding to the already beautiful building, is the winter illumination. This year, you can see a Snow Light Globe.
Period: Nov 18 – Dec 25, 2021
Official Website: https://www.tokyo-midtown.com/jp/event/xmas/
6. Enoshima Winter Illumination: Jewel of Shonan
Enoshima is a popular tourist spot close to Tokyo. Every autumn and winter, colorful lights sparkle around the lighthouse on the island, which is known as the Jewel of Shonan.
Period: Nov 23, 2021 – Feb 28, 2022
Official Website: https://enoshima-seacandle.com/event/shonannohoseki/
7. Nabana No Sato Illumination
The Nabana no Sato Illumination held in Mie Prefecture is one of the most popular illuminations in Japan. The scale of this event is spectacular as it is divided into seven areas: Sea of clouds, great river of light, brilliant road, plum blossom, millenium garden, twin trees, flowers & light. Each area has its own characteristics, and it takes a lot of time to go through it all.
Period: Oct 23, 2021 – May 31, 2022
Entry fee: 2,300 yen for elementary school students to adults (free for those below elementary school age)
Official Website: https://www.nagashima-onsen.co.jp/nabana/illumination/index.html
8. Osaka Midosuji Illumination 2021
The Osaka Midosuji Illumination is not as famous as the other illuminations introduced in this feature. You may be aware that Osaka is feasting all year round and has a street vibe and energy. This soft and elegant winter illumination, which stretches across 4-km, is a nice contrast to the usual hustle and bustle.
Period: Nov 3 – Dec 31, 2021
Official Website: https://www.hikari-kyoen.com/midosuji/
9. Hikari No Machi JR Hakata City (Fukuoka)
This illumination takes place in front of Fukuoka Station. It is quite lively with heavy foot traffic. Not only the front of the station, but also the surrounding streets and alleys are decorated with lights of various colors giving a feel of celebration through the whole city.
Period: Nov 4, 2021 – Jan 5, 2021
Official Website: https://www.jrhakatacity.com/2021_illumination/
10. Kingdom of Lights, Huis Ten Bosch Nagasaki
The final one is the Huis Ten Bosch Light Show in Nagasaki Prefecture. It has been ranked No. 1 among illumination events in Japan for nine consecutive years. Huis Ten Bosch actually have an evening light show all year round, and the autumn and winter illuminations are much more grand.
It may not be possible for many travelers to visit Japan this year, but make a note of these spectacular events for next autumn and winter.
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