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8 Best Winter illuminations in Japan you must check out

29 Best Winter illuminations in Japan you must check out

Illuminations, which are synonymous with winter evenings, fantastically colour the city and are perfect for dates during ✨holiday season.✨ 

In recent years, there has been an increase in the number of live illuminations that use images and music, such as “projection mapping,” in which computer graphics are projected onto buildings and other structures in three dimensions. In this issue, we will introduce such highly satisfying illumination spots recommended for 2022-2023. In addition to the illumination period and lighting hours, event information and parking information are also included. Experience the excitement that can only be experienced at this time of year, in this place! 🎄🎅🏻🦌☃️❄️

Winter illuminations are one of the best attractions in Japan. It’s amazing how they add so much joy to the atmosphere and provide magical views. The winter illuminations usually begin from November and then continue through Christmas and New Year’s. Have you ever wondered what and where the best winter illuminations in Japan are? 

Here are the best winter illuminations in Japan for winter illuminations!


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Check out what to do in Winter, best illuminations in Tokyo, best illuminations in Japan, illumination day trips, best ski resorts, winter festivals, best onsen spots and ways to escape the cold in winter in Japan.

Best Winter Illuminations in Japan

The 42nd Sapporo White Illumination [Hokkaido]

29 Best Winter illuminations in Japan The 42nd Sapporo White Illumination

The 42nd Sapporo White Illumination (Hokkaido) is the first illumination in Japan, which started in 1981 with 1,048 light bulbs in Odori Park’s 2-chome Plaza. The scale and content of the illumination has increased over the years, and it has grown to become one of the leading light events in Japan. Many light bulbs, including objets d’art inspired by the nature of Hokkaido and Christmas, cross as lines of light. At the Odori site, a tree and objects with flower motifs is set up, adding to the Christmas spirit. The Ekimae-dori and Minami Ichijo-dori venues are decorated with beautiful twinkling lights on the trees along the streets.

2022 Hakodate Christmas Fantasy [Hokkaido]

29 Best Winter illuminations in Japan 2022 Hakodate Christmas Fantasy

A major winter event is held around the Red Brick Warehouse from December 1 to December 25. The lights are turned on at 16:30 (18:00 on the first day), turned off at 17:45, turned on again at 18:00, and illuminated until 22:00. Don’t miss the “Premium Red Tree” period, during which the tree turns red for 15 minutes three times daily.

Romanesque Illumination [Hokkaido]

29 Best Winter illuminations in Japan Romanesque Illumination

The Otaru Canal Warehouses, Canal Plaza, the former Otaru Branch of the Bank of Japan (now the Financial History Museum), the former Otaru Branch of the Mitsui Bank, and the former Hokkai Can Warehouse No. 3, all standing between the Kusa and Chuo Bridges, are beautifully lit up at night. The historic buildings are illuminated in the dark, creating a fantastic scene. The Canal Plaza is a convenient base for sightseeing, with a tourist information centre and stores selling local products. There are also many other tourist attractions nearby, such as Kitaichi Glass and Otaru Music Box Museum. (The former Otaru Branch of the NYK Line is closed until June 30, 2023 for construction.)

Garden Illumination Mori-no-Kaze [Iwate Prefecture]

29 Best Winter illuminations in Japan Garden Illumination Mori-no-Kaze

Located in Shizukuishi Town, Iwate Prefecture, the Flower & Garden Morikaze is one of Japan’s largest full-scale gardening parks, covering more than 23,000 square metres and featuring seasonal flowers, fruit trees, conifers, topiaries, and other plants. At night, the park is illuminated with approximately 340,000 light bulbs based on the theme of Kenji Miyazawa’s “Night on the Galactic Railroad. Illuminated lines of light that resemble the rails of a galactic railroad and illuminated spheres that look like planets floating in the galaxy beautifully illuminate the garden, creating a fantastic nighttime walkway.

2022 SENDAI Pageant of Light [Miyagi Prefecture]

29 Best Winter illuminations in Japan 2022 SENDAI Pageant of Light

The “SENDAI Pageant of Light,” which was created in 1986 with the hopes of “brightening up Sendai in winter” and “turning the City of Trees into the City of Light,” is going to be set up for the 37th time this year. Every year, citizens and students volunteer to run the event, which has become a popular winter event in Sendai. During the festival, the main venue is Jozenji-dori Avenue in the centre of Sendai City, where the zelkova trees are illuminated with approximately 470,000 beautiful lights, creating a radiant and festive atmosphere.

Chiba Port Tower Christmas Fantasy 2022 [Chiba Prefecture]

29 Best Winter illuminations in Japan Chiba Port Tower Christmas Fantasy 2022
Credit: 熊谷俊人(千葉県知事)

A giant 100-metre-high Christmas tree with colourful light bulbs makes its appearance on the wall of Chiba Port Tower, the symbol of Chiba City, 125 metres above the ground. The twinkling lights can be enjoyed from the elevators inside the tower, and the night view from the observation deck, which has been certified as a “Japan Night View Heritage.” The “Promenade of Love” on the second floor features a padlock that locks two people’s love and a monument to the “Lover’s Sanctuary,” making for a romantic date night. Altogether, watching this light-up makes a wonderful Christmas experience.

Tamaari△town Keyaki-hiroba Illumination 2022-23 [Saitama Prefecture]

29 Best Winter illuminations in Japan Tamaari△town Keyaki-hiroba Illumination 2022-23
Credit: Festival of Lights in Osaka

Subtitled “Brilliant Earth Garden. Approximately 150 zelkova trees is decorated with blue, aqua, and white LEDs, transforming them into a fantastic “blue forest” that brings out their beautiful silhouettes. In the lawn plaza, a clear dome will appear in the image of flowers blooming on the earth and the earth. The clear dome is lined with colourful flowers blooming on the earth and can be enjoyed both day and night. Also, in the atrium plaza on the first floor, an objet d’art will be installed in the image of a meteor shower like large wings becoming a beacon of hope and gathering on the earth.

Tobu Zoo Winter Illumination 2022-2023 [Saitama Prefecture]

29 Best Winter illuminations in Japan Tobu Zoo Winter Illumination 2022-2023
Credit: Timeout

This year marks the 14th year of the Winter Illumination, which will illuminate the park with approximately 3 million light bulbs. The park is filled with attractions such as three special light shows combining light, music, and images on a large LED vision screen, the “Music Box,” a 50-metre-long light tunnel where lights move in time with music, and the “Lantern Illumination. The Illumination Pass is a great deal for those who enter the park after 3:00 p.m.

Tokyo Mega Illumination 2022-2023 – Oi Racecourse Illumination [Tokyo]

29 Best Winter illuminations in Japan Tokyo Mega Illumination 2022-2023 – Oi Racecourse Illumination
Credit: Japan Forward

Tokyo Mega Illumi, held at Oi Racecourse on non-racing days, is a winter-only illumination event popular with adults and children alike. Visitors can enjoy various illuminations such as a fountain show, aurora borealis, and a 100-metre-long light tunnel, as well as a meet and greet with miniature horses. On specific days, there will also be a “pony ride and carriage” experience event (limited to a certain number of pairs, advance reservations required) and a “fountain x guided horse show. For your convenience, the event is located close to central Tokyo and easily accessible from Haneda Airport (large parking lot available). A wide variety of food, beverages, and original goods are available for you to enjoy with your loved ones.

The Prince of Star Museum Hakone Saint-Exupery Romantic Starry Winter [Kanagawa Prefecture]

29 Best Winter illuminations in Japan The Prince of Star Museum Hakone Saint-Exupery Romantic Starry Winter
Credit: Magcul

The “Prince of the Star Museum” is dedicated to the fairy tale “The Star Prince” and its author Saint-Exupery. The theme for the year 2022 is “SMILE. The theme for 2022 is “SMILE,” with the hope that spending time at the Prince of Wales Museum will bring a smile to the faces of visitors to the park.

Illumination of Lisa and Gaspard Town [Yamanashi Prefecture]

29 Best Winter illuminations in Japan Illumination of Lisa and Gaspard Town
Credit: hirometix

Located next to the first entrance of Fujikyu Highland, “Lisa and Gaspard Town” is the world’s first theme park of “Lisa and Gaspard,” popular picture book characters from France. Lined with attractions, cafes, and stores, the town is colourfully lit up at night in the image of Paris, the setting of the original story. During the Christmas season, an 8-metre high “Twatomo Tree” that changes colour with music is on display, giving you and your family a taste of the Christmas spirit.

Christmas in Karuizawa Hoshino Area 2022 [Nagano Prefecture]

29 Best Winter illuminations in Japan Christmas in Karuizawa Hoshino Area 2022
Credit: Moshi Moshi Nippon

The Karuizawa Hoshino area is wrapped up in Christmas lights again this year. In the plaza adjacent to “Hoshino Onsen Tombo no Yu” (Hoshino Hot Spring), a 10-metre high real fir tree twinkles, creating the perfect photo spot for a holiday card. It will make you feel as if you were surrounded by magical stardust. On Saturdays and Sundays during the festival, “Happiness Lights Up Time” is held, where you can witness the Christmas tree lighting up. A new “mistletoe path” has also been opened on the promenade connecting Harunire Terrace to Hoshino Onsen Dragonfly Hot Spring, so that you can enjoy miscellaneous trivia related to mistletoe and Christmas.

Izu Kogen Grand Illumination – 8th Season [Shizuoka Prefecture]

29 Best Winter illuminations in Japan Izu Kogen Grand Illumination – 8th Season
Credit: Good Luck Trip

This is Japan’s first interactive illumination, adding a new level of excitement to holiday illuminations. The “Walk on the Illumination” is a unique and fantastic space where you can walk on the illumination. There is also a new area, “Treasure Island Area,” “Zip Line – Meteor RYUSEI,” where you can glide over the illumination, “Dino Age Walk,” where you can see life-size dinosaurs floating in the dark night, and “Light and Sound Show,” where lights start dancing to the music. Your family and friends are sure to have a memorable experience!

Nagoya Port Seatrain Land Winter Illumination 2022 [Aichi Prefecture]

29 Best Winter illuminations in Japan Nagoya Port Seatrain Land Winter Illumination 2022
Credit: Aichi Now

Seatrain Land is decorated with approximately 50,000 lights. At the entrance, a starry sky dome welcomes you and as you enter the park you will see it fully decorated with illuminations that glow to the sound of music and illuminated hearts. The lights are beautifully blended with the amusement park attractions to create a romantic atmosphere. The park has attractions that will delight children, (and kids at heart) making it a family-friendly illumination spot. Admission is free, so it is a great place to stop by casually during a family outing.

Shima Spain Mura Sparkling Christmas [Mie Prefecture]

29 Best Winter illuminations in Japan Shima Spain Mura Sparkling Christmas

Shima Spain Mura is full of Spanish passion. From dusk, you can enjoy the illuminated cityscape. A big tree measuring approximately 7 metres, wreaths and other decorations are displayed throughout the park, and approximately 200,000 lights add to the Christmas mood. During the Christmas period, well-known characters will greet visitors in cute red and green Christmas costumes, and limited-time-only Christmas gourmet foods will be available at restaurants in the park and hotels. The park and hotel restaurants will also offer special Christmas food.

Wajima, Shiromai Senmaida “Azenokirimeki” [Ishikawa Prefecture] 

29 Best Winter illuminations in Japan Wajima, Shiromai Senmaida “Azenokirimeki”
Credit: Ishikawa Travel

This is a spectacular event in which 25,000 LED lights illuminate the “Shirome Senmaida” (1,004 small rice paddies), forming a geometric pattern that extends all the way to shore. The “Azeno Kirameki” lights up when it becomes too dark for the solar panels to recharge, and the lighting time varies depending on the weather and the time of sunset. The illumination is turned on approximately 15 minutes after sunset, and gradually fades out after 4 hours. Better yet, the illumination is entirely powered by sunlight, reminding us of the wonder of natural energy.

Rosean Illumination 2022-23 “Hikari Kanaderu Oka” [Shiga Prefecture]

29 Best Winter illuminations in Japan Rosean Illumination 2022-23 “Hikari Kanaderu Oka”
Credit: Moshi Moshi Nippon

An illumination using more than 1.3 million LED bulbs is held at “English Garden Roseanberry Tawada.” This year’s theme is “Evolutionary Lights! A new production, “Golden Forest of Ticking Time,” will appear in the main area, where the clock tower transforms into a dazzling jewel-like tower at nightfall, and a golden forest will spread out. In addition, the area that until last year was decorated with warm European-inspired colours has been transformed into a mysterious silvery-white area. You can also enjoy the popular illumination experiences “The Miraculous Blue Rose” and “The Tree of Prayer Shining in Seven Colors.

NAKED FLOWERS 2022 Autumn World Heritage Nijo Castle [Kyoto, Japan]

29 Best Winter illuminations in Japan NAKED FLOWERS 2022 Autumn World Heritage Nijo Castle
Credit: NAKED, INC

NAKED FLOWERS 2022 Autumn: Nijo Castle, a World Heritage Site,” an experiential art exhibition of flowers, is set at Nijo Castle from October 28 to December 4. This time, the projection mapping show on the Karamon Gate, an important cultural property, which had been simplified after the Corona disaster to avoid three-density as much as possible, is back. The show includes not only the gate but also the floor surface, and expresses the arrival of autumn through the graceful flight of phoenixes. On the stone wall of the inner moat, a projection mapping show of phoenixes spreading all over the wall and a participatory digital artwork in which you can reflect your own flowers on the inner moat will be developed. Food and drink stalls will also appear in the kitchen vestibule.

Midosuji Illumination 2022 [Osaka Prefecture]

29 Best Winter illuminations in Japan Midosuji Illumination 2022
Credit: Zekkei Japan

“Midosuji Illumination” is the main program of the “Osaka Light Festival 2022,” in which lights are displayed in various places in Osaka. Under the design concept of “a symbolic street of light that connects people’s thoughts and feelings,” the section of Midosuji Avenue from the Hanshin-mae intersection to the Namba West Exit intersection are illuminated with glittering lights. The 4-km-long street of lights on a global scale was recognized in 2015 as a world record for the “most illuminated street” in the world.” This year, the 14th year of the festival, “Light show 2022” intertwines music and light with plenty of surprises waiting for you.

EXPOCITY Illumination [Osaka Prefecture]

29 Best Winter illuminations in Japan EXPOCITY Illumination
Credit: Bureau International des Expositions

EXPOCITY, one of the largest complexes in Japan, is once again being illuminated, spreading holiday cheer. An 8-metre high tree has been placed in the sky square. Japan’s largest Ferris wheel “OSAKA WHEEL” shines in special colours, and more than 100,000 LED bulbs have been applied as decoration from the main entrance to the train entrance, creating a festive atmosphere suitable for the Christmas season. The zelkova trees that line the street from the main entrance to the Sky Plaza are also illuminated, adding to the Christmas mood.

Illumination of Kobe Gas Light Street [Hyogo Prefecture]

29 Best Winter illuminations in Japan Illumination of Kobe Gas Light Street
Credit: Oilstreet

The main street of Kobe Harbor Land, Kobe Gaslight Avenue and the zelkova trees along Harbor Road is illuminated with approximately 100,000 LED bulbs. Every day, “Harbor Wink,” in which the lights are turned off and then turned on again, is held three times a day at 20:00, 21:00, and 22:00 (subject to change). The moment when the cityscape, which has been quiet for a moment, lights up all at once is a moving experience. The soft light of the gas lamps and the illumination of the street trees gently illuminate passersby. Take a stroll through the romantic world created by these beautiful lights.

Kurashiki Kirameki no Michi [Okayama Prefecture]

29 Best Winter illuminations in Japan Kurashiki Kirameki no Michi
Credit: 号外NET倉敷市について

Kurashiki Kirameki no Michi” is decorated with approximately 180,000 illuminated bulbs, inspired by the bright future of Kurashiki City. Each area of the greenway in Kurashiki Mirai Park is decorated in a different way, with objects and projectors creating a “world of stars” and a “world of flowers”. Achiterasu Kurashiki is an elegant space that blends Japanese and Western styles through the use of pixel lights for visual effects and “Kiriko-Akari type Monument. During the period, events such as workshops where visitors can experience making things and photo contests are scheduled to be held.

Hiroshima Drimination 2022 [Hiroshima Prefecture]

29 Best Winter illuminations in Japan Hiroshima Drimination 2022
Credit: Get Hiroshima

This year marks the 35th time for the illumination project and the 21st time for the Drimination, a major winter event that beautifully illuminates the city centre and attracts approximately 600,000 visitors every year. This year, under the theme of “Fairyland,” the event will be held at the greenbelt north and south of Peace Boulevard, Alice’s Garden, shopping streets, and other locations, decorating each area with colourful lights. Visitors can enjoy strolling through the night streets of Hiroshima, which are filled with photo-worthy objects and photo spots.

Leoma Winter Illumination 2022 [Kagawa Prefecture]

29 Best Winter illuminations in Japan Leoma Winter Illumination 2022
Credit: Shikoku Naosuko Blog

Leoma Hikari World” won second place in the National Illumination Awards. This winter, a new night entertainment show featuring dance, music, fireworks, and fascinating illusions have been created. In addition, an illumination lighting ceremony is held every day at the 23-metre-high tree. We recommend you to check out “Alice’s Magical Night Walk” with giant lanterns and fun experiences, the powerful “Fireworks Fantasia,” light parade, 3D projection mapping, five major ride attractions with spectacular views, and winter-only food such as the Warm Soup Fair. (Events are limited to certain days, so please refer to the official website.)

Asutamu Land Tokushima “Happy Xmas 2022” [Tokushima Prefecture]

29 Best Winter illuminations in Japan Asutamu Land Tokushima Happy Xmas 2022
Credit: Walkerplus

Asutamu Land Tokushima is one of the largest illumination spots in Tokushima Prefecture, sporting an area the size of six Koshien stadiums, with numerous LED lights covering the entire park. A 10-metre-high Christmas tree will make its appearance, creating a magical world for visitors to enjoy. The rapids slide “Yoshino River Tour” is a very popular attraction where visitors can tour the illumination in a small boat. In addition, the Children’s Science Museum and Planetarium are holding nighttime-only events (for details, see the Asutamu Land Tokushima official website).

Illumination 2022 Mojiko Retro Romantic Lights [Fukuoka Prefecture]

29 Best Winter illuminations in Japan Illumination 2022 Mojiko Retro Romantic Lights
Credit: Fukuoka Now

Mojiko is a nostalgic, new town. The retro buildings are lit up and the trees are decorated with the beautiful glow of approximately 300,000 illuminated bulbs. The night in this gorgeously decorated port town looks like a scene from a movie, and there are plenty of photo spots. The water surface illuminated by natural moonlight, combined with the multicoloured lights illuminating the buildings, brings the historical buildings and the entire area into a world of light. Enjoy a romantic evening stroll in the fantastic cityscape.

Huis Ten Bosch “Kingdom of Light” [Nagasaki Prefecture]

29 Best Winter illuminations in Japan Huis Ten Bosch “Kingdom of Light”
Credit: Discover Nagasaki

Winner of the “National Illumination Ranking” for nine consecutive years, the “Kingdom of Light” is the largest of its kind in the world, with 13 million light bulbs. Centering on the sacred chapel, the “World of Silver Lights” lighting ceremony, in which a singer’s voice turns the entire world into a silvery white light, is like a scene from a movie. The “Arch of Eternity,” a tunnel of pure white light, and projection mapping in the palace will create a magical and heartwarming experience. In addition, the entire town is illuminated by a variety of light spots that cannot be visited in a single day.

Phoenix Seagaia Resort “Starlight Winter ~Special Seat of Stars and Light~” [Miyazaki]

29 Best Winter illuminations in Japan Phoenix Seagaia Resort “Starlight Winter ~Special Seat of Stars and Light~”
Credit: Moshi Moshi Nippon

At the flagship hotel of Phoenix Seagaia Resort, “Sheraton Grande Ocean Resort,” illumination are being held at “THE LIVING GARDEN,” a garden area exclusively for hotel guests. When the sun sets, stars in the night sky will descend on “THE LIVING GARDEN. The waterside garden, lit by approximately 30,000 LEDs and lanterns, looks like a reflection of starlight. In addition, a fantastic photo spot surrounded by warm light appears in the living room of the bonfire. You can enjoy a winter resort stay with illumination unique to Sea Gaia.

Southeast Botanical Garden “Okinawa Tropical Illumination 2022-2023” [Okinawa Prefecture]

29 Best Winter illuminations in Japan Southeast Botanical Garden “Okinawa Tropical Illumination 2022-2023”
Credit: Visit Okinawa Japan

A limited-time illumination event is being organised at Southeast Botanical Garden, Japan’s largest outdoor tropical botanical garden in Okinawa City, where you can interact with tropical nature and animals. This year’s event will take advantage of the park’s tropical layout to create a warm, handmade, original illumination. In addition to the illumination of the lotus and palm trees, a new area is scheduled to appear this year as well! You can enjoy the tropical resort illumination lit up with gorgeous light unique to the botanical garden.

Although winter in Japan can get very cold, illuminations can add some warmth, allowing you to feel the splendor of winter. You can find many places for wonderful winter illuminations if you visit Japan in winter, but if you visit Japan any other time, don’t worry! There are still a lot of events you can enjoy!

Check out what to do in Winter, best illuminations in Tokyo, best illuminations in Japan, illumination day trips, best ski resorts, winter festivals, best onsen spots and ways to escape the cold in winter in Japan.

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FLIP GUIDE TEAM

Hey friend!

Just like you, we are foreigners from all around the world.

When we first arrived in Tokyo, we all found this city to be overwhelming, not sure where to begin.

During the years that we have lived here in Japan, we have discovered and visited countless famous tourist attractions as well as unique and underground places.

We are now proud to say that we are experts of Japan and would love to share the knowledge with all of you!

 

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