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Japan’s Autumn and Winter Illuminations
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Japan’s Autumn and Winter Illuminations

Let there be light! Japan’s dazzling illuminations take place across the country throughout autumn and winter. Here are our recommendations for the very best. 

Top 10 Japanese Illuminations
Bonus Recommendations


As the days grow darker, Japan turns to the light. The country’s love of illuminations throughout the autumn and winter months transforms its cities, villages, shopping malls, parks, gardens, temples, and more, into dazzling winter wonderlands of light-based attractions. They have become an essential element of Japan’s autumn and winter calendar and a must-see if you’re planning a visit to this amazing country. We’ll tell you our recommendations for some of the best illuminations and light-shows to visit, how to get there and back on Japan's amazing domestic trains, with the JR Pass for unlimited travel, and everything else you need to know. Let there be light!   

Top 10 Japanese Illuminations

Japan’s spectacular autumn and winter illuminations seem to get bigger every year and take place all over the country. Here’s our guide to ten of the very best across Japan for you to visit.   

1. Winter Fantasy at Sanuki Manno Park, Kagawa Prefecture

The aptly named ‘Winter Fantasy’ festival couldn’t be a better choice of words, both for this event and for Japan’s love of illuminations generally. In winter, Sanuki Manno Park transforms into a winter wonderland. Known for its flowers during the spring and summer, particularly its hydrangea, nemophila, and bassia scoparia fields. The star of the show at Winter Fantasy is the 9m-tall Shoryu-no-Taki Falls - a breathtaking and colourful creation. This festival runs from November to January.

2. Keyakizaka Illumination

From now until Christmas Day, the 400m-long Keyakizaka Street next to the Roppongi Hills shopping centre in Tokyo is going to be lit up in spectacular style by more than 800,000 white and blue LED lights. It’s just one of several special illuminations and winter light show attractions in the Roppongi Hills area over the autumn and winter. For decades, Roppongi has been one of Tokyo’s most popular entertainment districts for international visitors, and continues to reinvent itself. You can find out more about what Roppongi has to offer in our Visitors Guide to Roppongi.  

3. Izu Granpal Park Gran Illumination, Shizuoka

Shizuoka’s Izu Granpal Park is the place to go for illuminated lanterns and fantastical sights this autumn and winter. Look out for paper cranes, animals, flowers, seashells and even an illuminated Jurassic Park style with more than 20 enormous light-up dinosaurs. You can also take a zipline ride through the park for a truly spectacular vantage point.

4. Midosuji Illumination, Osaka

This famous 4m long shopping street in Osaka - one of the city’s most popular for retail therapy - is also known for its beautiful illuminations. In a dazzling neon city like Osaka, illuminations need to be extra special to stand out and Midosuji goes above and beyond, holding the Guiness World Record for more illuminated trees on a single street.

5. Sagamiko Illumillion

This festival takes its unique name - Illumillion - from a combination of the words ‘illumination’ and ‘million’ in reference to the scale of this spectacular six-month long event. The Sagamiko Illumillion festival is said to feature more than six million LED lights in the creation of the Pleasure Forest at Lake Sagami Resort. With so much effort to set up the illumination, little wonder that the Sagamiko Illumillion is left up for almost 6 months every year. As its name would suggest, through the Pleasure Forest lights have been arranged as they cross the rolling hills and venture up into the trees. Then there are the attractions like the Swan Palace, where a show is held combining lights, water and music to great effect. Elsewhere in the park, there are other great illuminations and animations, with 21 locations in total. What’s nice about Lake Sagami Resort is that once you’ve had a good chance to admire all the light displays, there’s also all the amusement park with all its rides. This way you get illuminations and rides together in one entrance ticket.

6. Kobe Luminaire 

If you’re seeking illuminations in Japan beyond Tokyo, then the Kobe Luminaire is the first place to start. Often considered the light festival that started it all, Kobe Luminarie has been an annual highlight for the city of Kobe. Its origins however were steeped in meaning as the festival was founded to commemorate the victims of the 1995 Great Hanshin earthquake that hit Kobe. The illuminations were chosen as an uplifting way to honour their memories. A great deal of care and work goes into Kobe Luminarie as a result, with each and every light individually hand painted. Perhaps that’s why the event lasts less than two weeks, extremely short by Japanese illumination standards. Even so, more than three million people manage to visit this free event each year during that brief window. The displays themselves tend to create elaborate scenes from tunnels of light to frames that create an illusion of Renaissance architecture filling the space. This is likely due to the strong Italian influence surrounding the festival, from the aid that helped start it, to the people that have worked on creating the illuminations. This is arguably the granddaddy of all Japanese illuminations.

7. Laguna Ten Bosch Illumination, Aichi

The Ten Bosch theme park unsurprisingly pulls out all the stops when it comes to winter illuminations. There are three main illuminated areas across the park, each featuring specially illuminated lanterns representing elements from the sea, land and sky. The latter is arguably the star attraction, with illumination created from 1,000,000 colourful lights, designed to look like a dazzling aurora in the sky around a Christmas tree.

8. Nabana no Sato Illumination, Mie

One of the biggest illuminations in all of Japan, Nabana no Sato Illumination in Mie is notable for several spectacular features, namely a 200m tunnel covered in champagne-coloured flower lights, a separate 100m tunnel with orange and blue LEDs, and a 25m tall pyramid with dazzling golden lights.

9. Ashikaga Flower Park, Tochigi

Together, this park and its flower festival are a huge draw for this lesser-visited part of Japan, situated outside the city of Ashikaga, north of Tokyo in the Kanto region. Running from late October through to early February, it’s a hard one to miss. Ashikaga Flower Park is already beautiful in the daytime and gets even more stunning at night, thanks to its colourful variants of fuji plants, also known as wisteria. The night-time illuminations even play on their signature attraction, with hanging lights mimicking the park’s enchanting pink wisteria. Roughly four million LED lights across the park are used to create this effect, as well feature in light and music shows. Find out more by reading our guide to Watching The Fuji Bloom at Ashikaga Flower Park.

10. Omotesando Fendi Illumination

Tokyo’s Omotesando area is famous for its high-end shopping, but during autumn and winter, it’s also well-known for its spectacular illuminations. Each winter, the 1km street’s beautiful zelkova trees are brought to life with more than 900,000 champagne coloured LEDs. Also, look out for the stunning Christmas Tree installation with 3D printed snowflakes nearby at Omotesando Hills.

And of course, while you’re there, be sure to hit the shops! Known as Tokyo’s Fifth Avenue, Omotesando is considered one of the most beautiful streets in Tokyo, because of its stunning architectural buildings on both sides of the avenue. Originally Omotesando was built as an approach to the Meji Shrine, Omote(表) meaning front and Sando (参道) approach or way, thus meaning frontal approach. While technically the name refers to the street only, it is also used for the wider area in the near vicinity. These days the street is lined with luxury brand stores, that for the majority are fashion and jewellery related. These include Louis Vuitton, Dior, Omotesandō Hills, Ralph Lauren and many others. Read our guide to Omotesando, Tokyo’s Fifth Avenue, for much more on this famous shopping street and destination. 

Finally, for a bonus choice - a No.11 to our list if you will - how about a different kind of illumination at Oirase Ice Falls Tour in Aomori? Located in the Towada Hachimantai National Park, the frozen waterfalls of Aomori offer a unique and spectacular show created by nature itself. The tours run from December to March. 

Bonus Recommendations

  • If you can’t get enough of illuminations, we have even more on the subject of winter light shows in our blog on Unmissable Japanese Illuminations where you’ll find a long list of extra and alternative suggestions.  
  • As well as illuminations, Japan also loves fireworks. Read our guide to Hanabi: Japanese Fireworks for the definitive guide to another kind of light show. 
  • For more spectacular sights, be sure to check out our guide to Japan’s Must-See Traditional Festivals.
  • Dazzled by the lights? If you lose your way and need directions, require language tips, or just want to post about Japan’s stunning illuminations on social media, then you need  to stay connected to the internet. Investing in a PocketWifi device for constant internet access and high speed unlimited data is highly recommended. 
  • If you’re planning a visit to Japan during the autumn and winter months and it happens to be your first time in the country, why not make life easier by using our Meet & Greet service on arrival? It’s like having an expert on Japan as your personal assistant. We’ll take care of you from the moment you arrive.

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