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.
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.