Japan, Winter Illuminations Guide 2020-2021

Tokyo Event Avatar photo Vivianne Tran

G'Day Japan! / Entertainment / Japan, Winter Illuminations Guide 2020-2021

If you’re wondering what else is there to do in Japan’s winter besides skiing or hot springs, then we just might have the perfect idea for you. What does Japan do best? Their awesome illuminations! Japan will tap into your wildest imagination with their divine winter illuminations that light up the cities at night! It is honestly a magical winter wonderland! Since the events are displayed every single year and are spread across the country, you will probably be able to find one very close by.

If you haven’t been to one yet, it’s time to start planning your ultimate winter holiday in Japan. But the question is, which winter illuminations should you visit and which is available nearby the city of your choice? To find out more, check out our list of undoubtedly beautiful winter illuminations displaying in Japan in 2020-2021.

Scroll down to find out which is your favourite! Trust me, your jaw may just drop. If you go, get the camera ready! It is totally photo worthy. 

1. Caretta Shiodome Illumination, Tokyo

Caretta Shiodome

Photo via gotokyo

Caretta Shiodome Illumination is one of the most romantic, themed winter light shows in Tokyo! In previous years, the event has collaborated with our beloved Disney movies. This show is special because it features over 250,000 LED lights alongside iconic Disney songs. What a perfect way to end your night while travelling in Japan, singing along to songs from your favourite movies! In 2017,  ‘Beauty and the Beast’ was displayed, ‘Frozen’ and ‘Tangled’ in 2018 and ‘Aladdin’ in 2019-2020. Despite the cold, it will surely warm your hearts! And all of a sudden, you end up picturing yourself in your very own fairytale. The event has yet to reveal the theme for 2021. I can’t wait to find out what they have in store for us! Can you? Definitely keep an eye out for further details announced via their website.     

Additional event information

【Official website】Click  here
【Date】Mid Nov – Mid Feb 2021
【Venue】Caretta Shiodome, Tokyo
【Entry fee】Free
【Hours】5:00pm – 11:00pm
【Access】A 5 min walk from Shimbashi Station.
【Map】Click here


2. Yomiuriland Jewellumination, Tokyo

Tokyo’s biggest amusement park, Yomiuriland, features dazzling jewel winter illuminations. The famous ‘Motoko Ishii’ designed this illumination event ‘Jewellumination’. She is a Japanese lighting designer. The stunning colours of jewellery inspire the design of these beautiful lights. It is unlike anything you have ever experienced. It features four million LED lights placed throughout the entire park. What makes this experience so memorable is that visitors will be able to enjoy the view of the lights, while they are on the rides! How cool is that? Not to mention, the amazing fountain show has got to be the highlight of your night. ‘La Fontaine’ uses 242 fountains, 60m width and a 15m height. Of course, we can’t forget the big ring fountain with a water screen, flames and lasers. Also, paired with dramatic music to top it off. A glorious sight, I guarantee you won’t be able to take your eyes off!

Additional event information

【Official website】Click  here
【Date】Late Oct – Early May 2021
【Venue】Yomiuri Land, Tokyo.
【Entry fee】Adult night pass (after 4pm + unlimited rides) ¥2,500.
【Access】Hop on Odakyu Line or Keio Line from Shinjuku Station to get to Keio-Yomiuriland Station.
【Map】Click  here 

Check out our article on Yomiuriland 


   3. Osaka Castle Illuminage, Osaka

Osaka castle illuminage is a unique illumination to visit in the winter. Being the world’s first ever Japanese-inspired lights event, it is indeed popular amongst tourists! It displays over 3 million LED lights. But what makes this experience so different? For the most part, the lights are displayed at one of the most popular, historic tourist sites in Osaka city. These light displays represent Japan’s 150 years of history behind the castle. It combines both Japanese and Western styles. Feel free to embark on a lovely 30m scroll along Nishinomaru Garden! As well as, admire the pop of colour displays of the past, with a striking backdrop of Osaka Castle. Also, there is a samurai show to enjoy. Trust me, you won’t be let down! All in all, it is totally Instagram worthy. So make sure you have your camera ready!    

Additional event information

【Official websiteClick  here
【Date】Late Nov- early March 2021
【Venue】Close to Osaka Castle, Nishinomaru Garden.
【Entry fee】Adult advanced ticket ¥1,200 (booked in advance). Regular ticket ¥1,500 (purchased day of event). 
【Hours】5:00pm – 10:00 pm. Lights start: 5:30 pm – 9:30pm.
【Access】From Osakajō-kōen Station
, hop on Nagahori Tsurumi-ryokuchi Line (N21)
【Map】Click  here


4. Arashiyama Hanatouro, Kyoto

Arashiyama Hanatouro illumination

Photo via Wow!Japan

The beautiful city of Kyoto holds the Arashiyama Hanatouro event. The winter festival is 10 days, starting mid December. The fantastic illuminations are worth exploring in this traditional town! With its breathtaking nature, the quiet streets beautifully light up at night alongside the famous bamboo forest. The pathway of lanterns and bright lights in between the swaying bamboo trees are stunning. After all, Hanatouro basically means ‘path of flowers and light’. This gives a surprisingly different vibe at night compared to in the day. Nevertheless, each is dreamy in their own ways. Although, I’ve got to say it is indeed romantic at night. Perfect for a lovely scroll with a special someone! Not only that, there are many artistic displays of lanterns and lights along the Togetsukyo bridge, temples and shrines. Some areas are only lit on weekends. So, please check the website before heading there.     

Additional event information

【Official website】 Click here
【Date】Mid – Late Dec, 2020
【Venue】Arashiyama street, Kyoto. Such as Tenryuji Temple and Bamboo Forest.
【Entry fee】Free of charge.
【Hours】5:00pm – 8:30pm
【Access】Take the Keifuku Dentetsu-Arashiyama Line to get to Arashiyama Station.
【Map】Click here


5. Sapporo Snow Festival, Hokkaido 

Sapporo snow festival

Photo via Flickr

Hokkaido is one of the most famous ski resorts in Japan, but do you know Sapporo Snow Festival, which is Japan’s largest winter festival? It holds for one week in early February. At night, the most creative snow and ice, statues and sculptures are brought to life with colourful light effects! Think about it, how cool would it be to actually see it in person? When the pictures already blow our minds away! The festival is located at 3 zones in Odori Koen Park, each offering something great. These zones are the Odori Site, Susukino Site and Tsu Dome Site. The Odori Site is the most well-known, attracting mass tourist crowds each year due to its large scale of over 100 snow and ice sculptures. In fact, they can range up to over 10m in height. The shops, food and drink stalls fill the streets, as well as, an ice rink. This festival will surely keep you entertained!  

Additional event information

【Official website】 Click here  
【Date】early February, 2021
【Venue】Odori Site, Susukino Site and Tsu Dome Site, Hokkaido Prefecture.
【Entry fee】Free
【Hours】All day. Light-up until 10pm. Tsu Dome Site is from 9am-5pm.
【Access】From Odori station, 2 min walk. Also, for Tsu Dome Site, from Sakaemachi station, it’s a 15 min walk.
【Map】 Odori Site   Click hereSusukino Site   Click hereTsu Dome Site Click here


6. Izu Granpal Amusement Park: Izukogen Grand Illumination, Shizuoka

IZU granpal amusement park

Photo via Tripadvisor

The park is open to adults, children and even your dogs are welcome to join in on the fun. The first ever interactive illumination in Japan! That’s right, rather than simply viewing it, you can experience it. Their winter illumination features over 6 million LED lights reaching as wide as approx. 80,000 square meters! In addition, their rides and attractions make the cherry on top to this whole experience. Why not glide across the sky on the zipline while enjoying the amazing view of the lights right below your feet. Now, it’s showtime! There are 3 Gran illumi shows, accompanied with music. Including the ‘Light and Sound Show’, where the lights perform a fish dance. The ‘Full Colour Laser Show’ produces a splitting image of an aurora with smoke and lasers. Lastly, the ‘Grand Vision Show’ is shown on a 60m wide LED display. Undeniably, exceeding all expectations!

Additional event information

【Official website】 Click here
【Date】19 Oct 2019- 31 August 2020
【Venue】Izu Granpal Amusement Park, Shizuoka prefecture.
【Entry fee】Adult ¥1,500, Children ¥800
【Hours】4:30pm-9:30pm. Last entry 45 min before close. Also, click here for upcoming open-close hours.
【Access】Take a tokai bus from Izu Kogen Station, 20 min ride or a taxi for 10 min.
【Map】Click here

7. Kobe Luminarie, Hyogo 

Kobe Luminarie

Photo via Amusingplanet

Kobe Luminarie is a winter light festival in Kobe City. The word luminarie is Italian for illumination. Both Japanese and Italian artists join their talents to design these colourful lights. It features lit up sculptures with its origin in Renaissance Europe. Every year, the designs and colours differ a little. But, I guarantee you will leave with much admiration and appreciation for these artworks of light. For about 10 days, the event is held every year in early December, in order to honour the 1995 Great Hanshin Earthquake victims. The illuminations are a symbol of hope for the people of Kobe city. Note that the event is located at a few places in the city and the lit up arched street is always busy. Seriously, pictures don’t do it justice, you need to see it to believe it!    

Additional event information

【Official website】  Click here
【Date】Early-Mid Dec 2020
【Venue】Kyu-gaikokujin Kyoryuchi (Old Foreign Settlement) district and Higashi Yuenchi park, Hyogo Prefecture.
【Entry fee】Free
【Hours】Mon-thurs: 6pm-9:30pm, Fri: 6pm-10pm, Sat: 5pm-10pm, Sun: 5pm-9:30pm.
【Access】 Walking distance from Motomachi Station (20 min).
【Map】Click here


8. Sendai Pageant of Starlight, Miyagi 

Sendai Pageant of Starlight 

Photo via JapanbyJapan

This is a classic winter illumination event in the Tohoku region. The event lasts throughout the entire month of December, giving you plenty of time to take in this dreamy scenery. Here, you can go on a walk with a loved one. The light tunnel along the 700m Jozenji-dori Street has around 160 beautiful Zelkova trees that glow in the night sky. The trees are lit up with about 600,000 LED lights that give off especially a warm Christmas feel to it. Not to mention, the city has other light attractions such as Christmas trees and an illuminated tunnel at Kotodai Park. Near the park are light displays as well as a small ice rink. If you’re lucky, it may be snowing. Perhaps, a Christmas miracle for some. Nevertheless, your night will definitely be a magical one to remember. 

Additional event information

【Official website】Click here
【Date】early-late Dec 2020
【Venue】Jozenji-dori Street, Miyagi Prefecture.
【Admission fee】Free
【Hours】5:30pm-10:00pm. Fridays & Saturdays end 11pm.
【Access】From JR Sendai Station, basically a 20 min walk.
【Map】Click here


9. Sagamiko Illumillion, Kanagawa

Here is one of the biggest winter illumination places to visit in Japan. It is a massive theme park with 10 zones, each having their own unique themes! In fact, it is just an hour trip from Tokyo by train. The illumination has over 6 million LED lights that will have you dropping your jaw the moment you lay eyes on it. I don’t know about you but I’m always on the hunt for the best view. Yes, even if it means heading to the highest peak. The rides and attractions will give you that lift in order to see the lights at its best. With that being said, the famous chair lift ride that takes you over magical rainbow lights, has got to be the ultimate highlight. Also, you can’t miss the awesome view from their ferris wheel! You will be blinded by the beautiful array of colours!

Additional event information

【Official website】 Click here
【Date】Early Nov – Early April 2021 
【Venue】Sagamiko Resort Pleasure Forest in Sagami city, Kanto region, Kanagawa Prefecture.
【Admission fee】
 Adult night pass ¥2,300 and children night pass ¥1,900.
【Hours】4pm-9pm. On weekends, ends 9:30pm.
【Access】From Shinjuku bus terminal “BUSTA”, take direct bus service. 
【Map】  Click here


 10. Gotemba Kogen Toki no Sumika Illuminations, Shizuoka

Gotemba Kogen Toki no Sumika Illumination

Photo via zekkeijapan

A leisure resort with hotels and restaurants, but visitors also join for the purpose of their winter illuminations! Displaying over 5.5 million gorgeous LED lights over many themed areas. Here’s a bonus, why not stay the night and enjoy the view of the lights and Mt.fuji? Check out the popular ‘tunnel of light’, Royal Palace Hill ‘laser fountain show’ and the lighting dome ‘light of magic wonder circus’. Perhaps, see the 15 minutes ‘light of versailles’ show, creatively using lasers and water to produce brilliant light effects. Beautiful rainbow fountains, with a height of up to 70m, will definitely impress you. With this in mind, you might get a little splash! But don’t worry, umbrellas will be given to you upon entry. Phew! One thing to say for sure, the illumination will instantly pull you in like a magnet, as the view is breathtaking!   

Additional event information

【Official website】 Click here
(No official event page yet).
【Date】late Oct-mid March 2021
【Venue】Gotemba Resort Toki no Sumika, Shizuoka Prefecture.
【Entry fee】Free to enter. The light tunnel is free.
Light of Versailles: Adult ¥1000, children above 5, ¥200.
【Hours】4:30pm-10pm, light up hours 5pm-9:30pm.
【Access】From Gotemba Station, Susono Station or Mishima Station, take free shuttle bus to get to the resort.
【Map】Click here



11. Huis Ten Bosch Kingdom of Light, Nagasaki

Huis Ten Bosch Kingdom of Light

Photo via JW

Huis Ten Bosch is an old Dutch town inspired theme park located in Sasebo city, Kyushu region. One of the biggest illumination events in the world! You may have heard of its theme resembling a ‘small Europe’, specifically Holland in the middle ages. Every year, the ‘Kingdom of Light’ winter illumination takes place here. Displaying colourful 13 million LED lights throughout the park, paired with beautiful park rides, attractions and music. The illumination event is most known for its LED waterfall, canal cruise with rainbow lights and fountains and flowers lighting up. Also, ‘Water Magic’ is a water show including 85m high fountains. Along with another light show ‘Tree of light Sky’ including a 30m high tree. Furthermore, feel free to check out the European themed Christmas market at Huis Ten Bosch. Come here to discover your winter wonderland and unlock the magic behind these doors, this winter.

Additional event information

【Official website】Click here
【Date】Early October- Early May, 2021 
【Venue】Huis Ten Bosch, Nagasaki Prefecture.
【Admission fee】For a 1-day passport: Adults ¥6,500,
Children ¥4,100.
【Hours】9am-10pm. Lights start from sunset, around 5pm-10pm.
【Access】From Fukuoka or Nagasaki, take a direct train or bus. Then, get off Huis Ten Bosch Station. 
【Map】Click here


So, what’s your favourite pick? Definitely a wonderful way to get into the Christmas spirit. Plan your next ultimate winter vacation to visit these amazing illuminations. Indeed one of the best in the world. It has the magic to, surprisingly, make you forget about the cold for a moment and truly warm your hearts!