Japan Australia Pages

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Winter Illuminations in Japan 2013

One of the highlights of winter in Japan for me is the spectacular winter illuminations that decorate the Christmas period. Around this time of year a lot of parks and town districts put on spectacular night time illuminations. The illuminations usually start late autumn and finish around the end of December, but some last until early February. Most are FREE and definitely worth checking out as they are a highlight of winter in Japan.

Some of the most popular and spectacular Winter Illuminations for 2013 include:

Kobe Luminaire

Kobe Luminaire in Kobe, Hyogo Prefecture. It is a light festival, which is the original and most famous in Japan. The illuminations run for twelve days in December and are turned on for a few hours each evening. They are truly spectacular with each light individually hand painted. Kobe Luminaire started after the Kobe Earthquake in 1995 with the hope to give courage and inspire the people of Kobe. It was such a success that it has continued as an annual event. This year’s theme is “A Memory of Light”, Kobe Luminaire will run from December 5-16.

Kobe Luminaire image source

Nabana no Sato

Nabana no Sato, located in Kuwana City in Mie Prefecture, it is a theme park dedicated to flowers. They have one of Japan’s finest winter illuminations that runs for about 4 months from mid-November to mid-March. The park is covered in more than 8 million LED lights with the highlight, the spectacular light tunnel. This year’s theme is “Nature”, and the park will celebrate the recent addition of Mt. Fuji as a UNESCO World Heritage Site by a giant illuminated model of the famous mountain. The model will change to represent the different seasons and times of day. Nabana no Sato Winter Illuminations will run from October 25 2013 to March 31 2014.

More on Nabana no Sato

The Light Tunnel at Nabana no Sato


Shirakawa-go in Gifu Prefecture, a UNESCO World Heritage Site famous for its gassho zukkuri farmhouses. This place has been famous for years due to its thatched roof farmhouses, but the beauty is raised to an even higher level when the houses are lit up in the snow. Spotlights illuminate the snow covered thatched roofs which makes this place look like Santa’s village in the North Pole. It is truly spectacular. This year it will run from the end of January to February.
Dates: January 18,25,26 and February 1,2,9,15

Winter Illuminations at Shirakawa-go image source

Sapporo Snow Festival

Sapporo Snow Festival in Hokkaido, this annual snow festival also called the Sapporo Yuki Matsuri is a winter favourite. It is held each year in early February with dozens of large and amazingly elaborate ice and snow sculptures. The event will be held from February 5-11 in 2014 and the amazing ice sculptures are lit at night creating a winter wonderland.

Sapporo Snow Festival image source

Some spectacular spots around the Tokai Area of Japan are:

Kiso Sansen Park

Kiso Sansen Park, located in Kaizu City in Gifu Prefecture, is an urban city park. The park first opened in 1987 and is the largest urban park in Japan. Every winter from early to late December they have a spectacular winter illumination consisting of about 500,000 lights that decorate the park.

More on Kiso Sansen Park

138 Tower Park

138 Tower Park, located in Ichinomiya City in Aichi Prefecture, it is one of the best public parks in Japan. It features a spectacular 138 meter high observation tower with dual arches. From mid-November to late-December the park is decorated with around 500,000 lights creating a spectacular winter illumination. This year’s theme is “Galaxy Fantasy” with the illuminations set up so that when viewed from the tower above they actually look like a galaxy of stars.

More on 138 Tower Park

138 Tower Park Galaxy Fantasy

Tokyo has quite a few seasonal illuminations spots including:

Shinjuku Southern Terrace, south of JR Shinjuku Station – November 13, 2013 to February 16, 2014
Ginza, Christmas trees along Chuo Street and store illuminations – November 16, 2013, to December 25, 2013
Roppongi Hills, 10th Anniversary Christmas Illumination Event – November 5, 2013 to December 25, 2013
Tokyo Midtown, Midtown Christmas featuring the “Starlight Garden” – November 14, 2013 to December 25, 2013
Odaiba, has the “Daiba Memorial Tree" in Odaiba Kaihin Park – November 16, 2013 to March 16, 2014
Tokyo Dome City, has an impressive collection of illuminations and displays – November 7, 2013 to February 16, 2014
Marunouchi, the entire district lights up with Nakadori Street, especially beautiful – October 1, 2013 to February 16, 2014

Most places in Japan will have some kind of winter illuminations, so wherever you are in Japan, you will be able to enjoy this winter tradition.

Winter Illuminations at Nabana no Sato in Mie Prefecture


  1. Hai... I Love You All... peace and love from Indonesia
    Nice blog...

  2. Wow, it all looks so amazing :O

    1. Thanks Herc, There are so many great winter illuminations through-out Japan :)

  3. Brr. Too cold! I'll just enjoy the lights via your photos. ^^

    1. Thanks Ru, Yeah, you can stay nice and warm inside enjoying the pretty pictures while my fingers freeze outside in the cold. I almost dropped my camera three times the other day it was so cold :)

  4. Man!
    We'd be a week or two too early for Kobe Luminaire next year, if the dates are the same.

    1. Hi Lina, I believe dates are usually the same (early to mid December). You could catch the spectacular winter illuminations at Nabana no Sato which start at the end of October.

  5. I love the light tunnel!
    I would like to add the Sounkyo Ice Fall Festival to the list.
    The town itself and the festival blew my mind. They build these enormous stalactite and stalagmite caves which you can walk through, weaving in and out of different mystery rooms beautifully lit in a vast array of colours.
    Its a must see for anyone touring Hokkaido in winter

    1. Thanks Anon for the extra information. I will have to look into the Sounkyo Ice Fall Festival in Hokkaido for the 2014/15 edition.


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