Light festivals are a staple of the holidays and Japan has many stunning displays all over the country. If you’re planning on a trip to Japan for the holidays, or simply a new resident, winter illuminations are a great way to indulge in the holiday celebrations.
Most Winter displays are in operation in November and December, but some do run longer than that, even starting in October and running till February.
In this article will talk about the best places to view some of the most beautiful winter illuminations displays across Japan.
This installation is open daily from November 18th to December 25th, 2021 between the hours of 5:00 pm and 11:00 pm (17:00-23:00). The lights are set up on the trees behind the main tower of Tokyo Midtown during the “Midtown Christmas” event.
There is also a paid ice rink as well that runs until February 27th, 2022, and is open between the hours of 11:00 am and 9:00 pm (11:00-21:00).
There are various beautiful lighting displays in this particular area with the most stunning being the Starlight Garden. In the area, there are many shops, restaurants, and more for you to explore as well.
During the holiday events held in Marunouchi, the entire district is illuminated with brilliant lights. The best place to view the displays is on Nakadori Street which is where the majority of the illumination is located.
Several of the buildings are illuminated as well along the streets.
This illumination is located close to Tokyo station and runs from November 11th, 2021 until February 28th, 2022 from 3:00 pm to 11:00 pm. It does, however, run as late as midnight during the month of December.
Shinjuku Winter Illumination
The event runs from November 29th to December 25th, 2021, but the illumination is going to stay up until February 14th, 2022. This festival of lights is located near Shinjuku station.
Shinjuku Southern Terrace is the main spot for this illumination. Lights line a 350m long terrace with 120,000 points of light.
The display in 2021 is themed around Little Twin Stars from the Sanrio group of characters. There will be a cafe wagon on December 4, 5, 23, 24, 25 Christmas crepes with the Little Twin Stars theme for you to snack on as you walk the brilliantly lit terrace.
This recently developed district of Tokyo close to Shimbashi is home to Toyko’s most popular illuminations that includes a massive display of LED lights twinkling all around the area.
There are also light shows within the Shiodome City Center.
During the last few years, they have done collaborations with Disney movies such as “Beauty and the Beast” and “Tangled”.
There are LED light displays of more than 250,000 lights that go along the theme of the movies and play the music as you walk through. A small exhibit features costumes and other props from the movies as well.
Shiodome’s illumination is usually a long-running event beginning in mid-November and ending on February 14th.
However, this illumination is not running in 2021 unfortunately but there are shops and restaurants in the area to explore as well.
Country Farm Tokyo German Village
Price: 3.000 yen/car, public transit: 500 yen
Just 15 minutes away from Sodegaura Bus Station, this massive, gorgeous light display runs from October 30 to March 28, 2021, in the nature-themed park of Tokyo German Village.
This garden theme park displays a recreation of German rural daily life and it is lit up with 3 million lights to go along with that year’s theme.
This year’s theme is “Make Your Smile”. The illumination goes along a vast walking path through the flower beds of the park.
When seen from above, the lights create a design of one massive picture, and there are many other installations as you walk along. The hours of operation are from sunset to 9:00 pm every day. The Park itself is open from 9:00 am.
Tokyo Dome City Winter Illumination
Close to Suidōbashi Station, there is Tokyo Dome City, an amusement park located beside the Tokyo Dome.
The light installation for this area spans the grounds of the dome as well as the amusement park adjacent to it. There are lights and events to be enjoyed across both areas.
The illumination runs from November 5th, 2021 until February 28th, 2022 between 5:00 pm to 12:00 am (17:00-24:00).
Price: 1500 yen
Nestled in the stunning setting of Lake Sagami Resort Pleasure Forest in Sagamihara City, this light festival is the Kanto Region’s largest of its kind. The illumination includes a stunning light show and a dancing fountain.
Just one hour away from Tokyo and a short ride from Sagamiko bus station, you can see these beautiful lights cascading along 40,000 square feet of the forest area. 6 million LED lights are used to make this illumination come to life.
Along with a walking path through a themed section of the illumination, there is also a Ferris wheel and a cable car system that takes guests over a large rainbow of lights.
There are also many food options, generally themed to the collaboration of that year; this year it is Sailor Moon.
This illumination runs from November 13th, 2021 until April 3rd, 2022. Hours of operation are sunset to 9:00 pm (21:00), though 8:30 pm or 9:30 pm on some days. In January it’s closed on most Wednesdays and Thursdays.
Osaka Festival Of Lights
The Festival runs for six months from November 3rd, 2021 until January 31st, 2022.
The illumination on Midosuji Street is a part of the larger festival of lights held in various areas around Osaka City. The 2.49-mile street is lit up with blue and yellow LED lights on either side of the street.
This illumination runs from November 3rd until December 31st, 2021 between 5:00 pm and 11:00 pm (17:00-23:00)
Osaka Hikari Rennaissance
This amazing festival of lights is held around Nakanoshima Park and Osaka City Hall. The festival includes artistic light displays all along the Nanakoshima Waterfront area as well as the historical buildings such as the City hall.
This part of the festival runs from December 3rd to 2nd, 2021 between 5:00 pm and 10:00 pm (17:00-22:00).
Nabana No Sato
Price: 2300 yen
Nabano No Sato is a family-oriented theme park and one of the Mie Prefecture’s best-known attractions only 30 minutes from Nagoya by transit.
The light illumination runs from October 23, 2021, until May 31, 2022 (not Jan 11th-13th and 24th-28th) starting at sunset and ending at 9:00 pm (8:00 pm on busy days).
This illumination features the Tunnel of Light (very popular among couples), Cloud of Lights, and one of the major flower gardens are lit up around a central theme every year. Past themes have been “Nature”, “Aurora”, “Flowers”, and “Waterfall”.
Arashiyama is a district of Kyoto just on the outskirts of the city that holds an annual illumination, the Hanatouro Festival. Dates are from December 10 to 19th, 2021 between the times of 5:00 pm- 8:30 pm (17:00-20:30).
It features a path illumination by open-air lanterns and lights in the bamboo to brighten the night air as tourists can stroll and visit the temples.
You can get access to this illumination from Arashiyama Station since it is close to the station.
This year is unfortunately the last year of this even after 17 years of annual operation.
Sapporo White Illumination
Close to Odori Station there sits a beautiful traditional light festival in Odori Park in Sapporo. There are three main events, the main hub in Odori Park, Ekimaedori, and Minami-ichi-jo dori.
There is something for everyone at this illumination with different themes and light displays in the area as well as restaurants for some warm food when it’s especially cold outside.
The festival runs from November 22nd, 2021 where all the lights begin, Ekimaedori runs until February 12th, 2022 and the other remaining displays end on March 14th, 2022.
This illumination is one of the oldest in Japan and it is held in memory of the earthquake victims of the Great Hanshin Earthquake of 1995.
The illumination includes light displays designed in collaboration with Japanese and Italian artists mean to inspire hope in the recovery from the disaster.