THE LIST

Now a sta­ple of the fes­ti­val cal­en­dar, Ja­pan’s win­ter light shows are get­ting more am­bi­tious with each pass­ing year. Here are four you shouldn’t miss.

DestinAsian - - DEPARTMENTS - BY JAMES LOUIE

Win­ter light fes­ti­vals in Ja­pan.

1 / Mie WIN­TER IL­LU­MI­NA­TION

Held at the flower park of Na­bana no Sato, a lit­tle over 30 min­utes’ drive from Nagoya, this year’s edi­tion of the pop­u­lar event is cen­tered on a 35-me­ter-high in­stal­la­tion with a minia­ture Mount Fuji. Here, 14 chang­ing scenes show­case lo­cal land­scapes and tra­di­tions in a style that re­calls ukiyo-e wood­block prints, with one pay­ing homage to Hoku­sai’s iconic The Great Wave off Kana­gawa. Don’t miss the 200-me­ter Tun­nel of Light made up of 1.2 mil­lion flower-shaped LED bulbs. Un­til May 6, 2019; na­gashimare­sort.jp

2 / Osaka FES­TI­VAL OF THE LIGHTS IN OSAKA

Ja­pan’s se­cond city shines its bright­est on the nar­row river­ine is­land of Nakanoshima, where the cen­tury-old Osaka City Cen­tral Pub­lic Hall takes cen­ter stage in a light and sound show as 1,000 lanterns recre­ate the feel of a Tai­wanese folk fes­ti­val nearby. While the dis­plays on Nakanoshima last till Christ­mas, vis­i­tors have un­til the end of De­cem­ber to stroll down the four-kilo­me­ter­long Mi­do­suji Boule­vard, stretch­ing be­tween the districts of Umeda and Namba, to see its rows of gingko trees draped in yel­low and blue light­ing. De­cem­ber 14–31, 2018; hikari-ky­oen.com

3 / Tochigi FLOWER FAN­TASY 2018

Just 90 min­utes by train from cen­tral Tokyo, Ashik­aga Flower Park daz­zles with the big­gest win­ter il­lu­mi­na­tion in east­ern Ja­pan. More than 4.5 mil­lion LEDs adorn the nine­hectare gar­dens, with tow­er­ing Christ­mas trees ga­lore and both real and ar­ti­fi­cial peonies lit up to ring in the New Year. Chains of pur­ple lights are also hung from the same lat­tices sup­port­ing the park’s renowned great wis­te­ria, whose vines sprawl across an area of over 1,000 square me­ters. Un­til Fe­bru­ary 5, 2019; ashik­aga.co.jp

4 / Na­gasaki KING­DOM OF LIGHTS

The is­land of Kyushu also has its share of mag­nif­i­cent end-of-year light shows. Just 75 min­utes up the train tracks from Na­gasaki, the Dutch-in­spired theme park of Huis Ten Bosch—which boasts a full-scale replica of its name­sake royal palace in The Hague—will be decked out in 13 mil­lion LED bulbs. New at­trac­tions in­clude a 60-me­ter-wide Wa­ter­fall of Light spilling from the rooftops of sev­eral town­houses, mu­si­cal wa­ter jets, and a “foun­tain canal pa­rade” that sees the main wa­ter­way painted in psy­che­delic col­ors when­ever a plea­sure boat passes through. Un­til April 21, 2019; huis­ten­bosch.co.jp

Mount Fuji fre­quently stars in Na­bana no Sato's sea­sonal il­lu­mi­na­tions.

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