Best Winter Illuminations in Japan 2018

Best Japanese Winter Illuminations

Light festivals over the Christmas period have become huge events in Japan. Every year the spectacular displays become even more extravagant and breathtaking.

They typically take place in November and December but some start as early as October and others go on until February. Here is a guide to some of the very best illuminations you can see in Japan this winter.

If you want to catch numerous light festivals, you can use your JR Pass to quickly travel between cities by bullet train.

Tokyo winter illuminations

Marunouchi Illumination

Maronouchi Winter Illumination, Tokyo

The entire neighborhood lights up for the winter season. Nakadori Street is the focal point for displays.

  • Access: Near Tokyo Station (Marunouchi Exit)
  • Price: Free
  • Dates: November 8 to February 17

Shinjuku Winter Illumination

Shinjuku's Southern Terrace Winter Illumination, Tokyo

The stunning event features various kinds of illuminations as well as festive Christmas trees. The Shinjuku Southern Terrace is the main spot.

Caretta Shiodome

Caretta Shiodome Winter Illumination, Tokyo
Caretta Shiodome Winter Illumination – Photo by Caretta Shiodome

The annual illumination features a vast display of twinkling LED lights. You can also see light shows in Shiodome City Center which is nearby.

  • Access: Near Shimbashi Station
  • Price: Free
  • Dates: November 15 to February 14

Country Farm Tokyo German Village (Near Tokyo)

Country Farm Tokyo German Village winter illuminations

The nature-themed park creates an enchanting fairytale world which features 3 million LED lights. The 70m long tunnel of lights is magnificent.

  • Access: 15 min walk from Sodegaura Bus Station
  • Price: Adult: 520 yen / Child: 260 yen
  • Dates: November 1 to April 7

Tokyo Dome City Winter Illumination

Tokyo Dome winter illumination

The amazing winter illumination features over 2 million LED lights and a Hansel and Gretel style cottage. It’s perfect for a family day out.

  • Access: Near Suidōbashi Station
  • Price: Free
  • Dates: Early November to mid-February

Tokyo Midtown Christmas Illumination

Tokyo Starlight Garden winter illumination
Tokyo Starlight Garden Winter Illumination – Photo by Kakidai under (CC BY-SA 4.0)

There are various light displays including the renowned Starlight Garden. The large area has a number of facilities including restaurants, cafes, museums, and shops.

  • Access: Near Roppongi Station
  • Price: Free
  • Dates: November 13 to December 25

Osaka winter illuminations

Midosuji Illumination

Midosuji Winter Illumination, Osaka

The wonderful light show stretches for 3 kilometers, all the way along Midosuji Street. It’s one of the world’s longest illuminated streets.

  • Access: Near Yodoyabashi and Shinsaibashi stations
  • Price: Free
  • Dates: November 4 to December 31

Osaka Hikari Renaissance

Osaka Hikari Renaissance
Osaka Hikari Renaissance – Photo by Oilstreet under (CC BY-SA 3.0)

Several of Osaka’s historic buildings are lit up with creative, entertaining displays. The art installations and food-sellers help to create a unique, festive atmosphere.

  • Access: Near Yodoyabashi and Naniwabashi stations
  • Price: Free
  • Dates: December 14-25

Nagoya winter illuminations

Nabana No Sato

Nabana No Sato Winter Illuminations, near Nagoya

The light festival is just outside of Nagoya and features more than 8 million LED lights. It takes thousands of workers 4 months to set up the magnificent display.

  • Access: Express bus from Nagoya Bus Station
  • Price: 450 yen
  • Dates: 15 Oct 2018 to 31 Mar 2019

Kobe winter illuminations

Kobe Luminarie

Kobe Luminarie
Kobe Luminarie – Photo by 663highland under (CC BY-SA 3.0)

Kobe Luminarie is one of the oldest Japanese light festivals. It draws millions of visitors each year and is held in memory of the victims of the Great Hanshin Earthquake.

  • Access: Near Motomachi or Sannomiya stations
  • Price: Free
  • Dates: December 2-11

Kanagawa winter illuminations

Sagamiko Illumillion

Sagamiko Illumillion, Kanagawa

Set in the beautiful setting of Lake Sagami Resort Pleasure Forest, it is one of the largest light festivals in the Kanto Region. There’s an incredible animated light show as well as a dancing fountain.

  • Access: Short bus ride from Sagamiko Station
  • Price: 1000 yen
  • Dates: November 3 to April 7

Kyoto winter illuminations

Arashiyama Hanatouro

Arashiyama Hanotauro Illuminations
Arashiyama Hanotauro Illuminations – Photo by minoir used under (CC BY 2.0)

The stunning natural area is lit up by open-air lanterns. The bamboo forest has arranged flowers and a stunning waterfront.

  • Access: Near Arashiyama Station
  • Price: Free
  • Dates: December 7-16

Sapporo winter illuminations

Sapporo White illumination

Sapporo White Illumination

The traditional light festival features several spectacular illuminations which take place at various locations around the park and Odori Street. The snowy setting has a unique, festive feel. Sapporo is also a great winter destination if you are looking for the best ski resorts in Japan!

  • Access: Close to Odori Station
  • Price: Free
  • Dates: November 22 to March 14

Shirakawa-go winter illuminations

Shirakawago Winter Light-Up

Shirakawa-go Winter Light-up

The sheer amount of snow transforms the area into a picturesque winter landscape. The special illumination events make the place even more special.

  • Access: Near Shirakawago Bus Terminal
  • Price: Free
  • Dates: January 14 to February 17

Cover photo: Shibuya Blue Cave – by @青の洞窟SHIBUYA 実行委員会

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