Best Winter Illuminations in Japan in 2023/2024

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. However, some start as early as October and others go on until February or even later in the spring. 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.

Marunouchi Illumination (Tokyo)

Maronouchi Winter Illumination, Tokyo

This entire neighborhood, a prominent business district, lights up for the winter season. Nakadori Street is the focal point for displays, and this year around 360 trees will be lit up with around 1.2 million champagne-color LED bulbs.

Several buildings in the district will also be illuminated. These include Marunouchi House, which has a fully lit-up 7th-floor terrace complete with seating and outdoor heating. The nearby Imperial Palace and Tokyo Station will be illuminated as well.

  • Runs from: November 16, 2023 to February 18, 2024
  • Illumination times: 15:00 to 23:00 (until 0:00 in December)
  • Access: Near Tokyo Station (Marunouchi Exit)
  • Price: Free

Shinjuku Winter Illumination (Tokyo)

Shinjuku's Southern Terrace Winter Illumination, Tokyo

The stunning event features various kinds of illuminations as well as sumptuously decorated Christmas trees. It’s estimated that around 170,000 LED bulbs will be used to bring all the lights to life.

This year’s illuminations will prominently feature the Suica penguin character, and a large bird installation will be placed at the main venue, Shinjuku Southern Terrace. However, you can find displays spread all around the south of Shinjuku Station as well.

  • Runs from: November 17, 2023 to February 14, 2024
  • Illumination times: 17:00 to 24:00 (from 16:30 in December)
  • Access: Near Shinjuku Station
  • Price: Free

Yomiuri Land Jewellumination (Tokyo)

Yomiuri Land Jewellumination (Tokyo)

You’ll find one of the largest light displays in Japan’s capital at the Yomiuri Land theme park just outside the city center. All the attractions are coated in LED lights to resemble sparkling jewels, and the effect is dazzling.

What’s more, there’s an 180-meter-long Love Tunnel where the word ‘love’ is spelled out in rainbow colors in different languages. The park also puts on a daily light fountain show where sprays of illuminated water dance along to music.

  • Runs from: October 19, 2023 to April 7, 2024 (closed on select days)
  • Illumination times: 16:00 – 20:30
  • Access: Keio Yomiuri Land Station
  • Price: 1800 yen

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.

The theme of this year’s winter illuminations is “Gulliver’s Travels’.’ Scenes from the famous novel are recreated with vast amounts of lights. These include a giant geoglyph of Gulliver himself, which you can view from an observation deck or the Ferris wheel.

There’s also an area where children can play with a giant electrical socket that triggers a series of glowing steps. Guests can also enjoy light and sound shows and the park’s first-ever Christmas market.

  • Runs from: October 27, 2023 to April 7, 2024
  • Illumination times: Sunset – 20:00 (last admission 19:30)
  • Access: 15 min walk from Sodegaura Bus Station
  • Price: 3.000 yen/car, public transportation: 500 yen

Tokyo Dome City Winter Illumination

Tokyo Dome winter illumination

The amazing winter illumination is spread over many areas around the Dome and the adjoining amusement park. It often uses over 2 million LED lights.

This year’s illuminations feature a huge installation in the shape of a half moon at Meet Ports Garden. The outdoor space on the third floor of the dome will also be lit up to simulate a huge crowd of people.

The nearby Laqua Garden will have a unique display featuring a mix of golden-lit trees and hanging bathtubs. And the Thunder Dolphin passage on the 2nd floor will offer an illumination that projects the silhouettes of famous Japanese comedians.

  • Runs from: November 21, 2023 to February 29, 2024
  • Illumination times: 17:00 to 24:00
  • Access: Near Suidōbashi Station
  • Price: Free

Tokyo Midtown Christmas Illumination

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

The Midtown illumination offers various light displays, including the renowned Starlight Garden. The 2023 event features a new installation called “gold trees”, where lights are applied to sustainable Christmas trees in addition to the regular foliage.

The illumination is particularly popular on December 24th. It has become a tradition for couples to bring and share a bottle of champagne under the lights on this date. If you’re feeling brave, also consider going for a skate on the ice rink next door.

  • Runs from: November 16 to December 25, 2023
  • Illumination times: 17:04 to 23:00
  • Access: Near Roppongi Station
  • Price: Free

Midosuji Illumination (Osaka)

Midosuji Winter Illumination, Osaka

This wonderful light show stretches for up to 4 kilometers through central Osaka between Umeda and Namba, all the way along Midosuji Street. It’s one of the world’s longest illuminated streets, and set a world record in 2015.

The hundreds of ginkgo trees all along the route are draped in multicolored lights, and several historic buildings and storefronts are illuminated as well. This year will also feature the debut of various laser displays and projection mapping shows.

  • Runs from: November 3 to December 31, 2023
  • Illumination times: 17:00 to 23:00
  • Access: Near Yodoyabashi and Shinsaibashi stations
  • Price: Free

Osaka’s Hikari Renaissance

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

This illumination event is held on Osaka’s Nakanoshima Island, which is sandwiched between the Dojima and Tosabori Rivers​. The vast amount of light used spectacularly illuminates the surrounding water, helped by the many colorful boats that drift on the surface.

Additionally, several of Osaka’s historic buildings are lit up with creative, entertaining displays and projection mapping. These include the Osaka City Hall, and the Nakanoshima Library. Various art installations and food-sellers help to create a unique, festive atmosphere.

  • Runs from: December 14 to December 25, 2023
  • Illumination times: 17:00 to 23:00
  • Access: Near Yodoyabashi and Naniwabashi stations
  • Price: Free

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Nabana No Sato (Nagoya)

Nabana No Sato Winter Illuminations, near Nagoya

This light festival is held at a family-friendly theme park just outside of Nagoya and features more than 5.8 million LED lights. It takes thousands of workers 4 months to set up the magnificent display.

Visitors can walk through a vast field that resembles a massive illuminated flower garden, and ascend to a viewing deck to see the outlines of figures and shapes from above. There’s also a range of on-site open-air hot springs you can enjoy!

  • Runs from: October 22, 2023 to June 2, 2024 (closed select days)
  • Illumination times: Sunset to 21:00 (until 22:00 select days)
  • Access: Express bus from Nagoya Bus Station
  • Price: 2500 yen

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, dating back to 1995. It draws millions of visitors each year and is held in memory of the victims of the Great Hanshin Earthquake and to inspire hope for the future.

The 2023/2024 event is being held in January instead of the traditional December dates. Additionally, this year’s illuminations will be spread over multiple sites, including Meriken Park, the Kitano-cho district, and Kobe East Park.

  • Runs from: January 19 to 28, 2024
  • Illumination times: Twilight to 21:30
  • Access: Near Motomachi Station or Sannomiya Station
  • Price: Free (area at Meriken Park is 1000 yen or 500 yen if paid in advance)

Sagamiko Illumillion (Kanagawa)

Sagamiko Illumillion, Kanagawa

Set in the beautiful surroundings of Lake Sagami Resort Pleasure Forest, this is one of the largest light festivals in the Kanto Region. The forest’s hillsides are fully decked out with around 6 million different colored LED lights.

There’s an incredible animated light show as well as an illuminated fountain that dances to music. Additional features include light tunnels, theme park rides such as a Ferris wheel, and a hillside chairlift.

  • Runs from: November 3, 2023 to May 12, 2024 (except most Wed and Thu from 1/10 until 3/14 and all weekdays from 4/8)
  • Illumination times: 16:00 to 20:00 (until 20:30, 21:00 or 21:30 on select days)
  • Access: Short bus ride from Sagamiko Station
  • Price: 1900 yen

Ashikaga Flower Fantasy (Tochigi)

Achikaga Flower Fantasy (Tochigi)

Held in Ashikaga Flower Park, Ashikaga Flower Fantasy uses over 5 million LED lights to simulate a full bloom in winter. Three different themes will be rotated over the season; Lights and Amethyst Sage, Christmas Fantasy, and Winter Peonies.

The park makes up for the lack of flowers by draping colorful illuminations over its numerous cherry trees, sage bushes, and its famous great wisteria tree. The massive illumination Flower Castle will also make a comeback.

  • Runs from: October 18, 2023 to February 14, 2024 (closed December 31)
  • Illumination times: 16:30 to 20:30
  • Access: Near JR Ashikaga Flower Park Station
  • Price: 1300 yen

Sapporo White Illumination

Sapporo White Illumination

This traditional light festival dates back to 1981. It features several spectacular illuminations which take place at various locations in and around Odori park. Visitors can also check out a traditional German Christmas market.

This season’s illuminations will include a special collaboration with the Disney movie “Wish”. The main tree at Odori Venue 1 will be decorated with ornaments based on the film, and the Sapporo TV tower will also be lit up with imagery from the feature.

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!

  • Runs: Until December 25, 2023 (Odori park), until February 11 (Sapporo Station), until March 14 (other venues)
  • Illumination times: Sunset to Midnight
  • Access: Close to Odori Station
  • Price: Free

Shirakawa-go Winter Light-Up

Shirakawa-go Winter Light-up

Shirakawa-go village is magical at any time of the year due to its charming gassho-zukuri farmhouses with their steep roofs and unique design. But the sheer amount of snow in the colder months turns the place into a picturesque winter landscape.

The dazzling illumination events which take place on Sundays in January and February make the village even more special. As the events have become so popular, only a limited number of tourists are let in at a time. So be sure to reserve in advance.

  • Illuminated on: January 14, 21, 28, and February 4,12,18 2004
  • Illumination times: 17:30 to 19:30
  • Access: Near Shirakawago Bus Terminal
  • Price: Free

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

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