Osaka Hikari Renaissance
Dec 14–25, Nakanoshima Island
Throughout December, Nakanoshima Park and Midosuji Boulevard twinkle with over 1.5 million lights during Osaka Hikari Renaissance, a part of the Osaka Festival of Lights. One main attraction is the projection mapping light show on the facade of Osaka City Central Public Hall.
Time: 5pm–10pm • Admission: Free • Access: Keihan Line, Naniwabashi Stn • hikari-kyoen.com/renaissance
Osaka Castle Illuminage
Nov 22–Mar 1, Osaka Castle Park
Take in spectacular views from Nishinomaru garden of Osaka Castle splashed with an array of colors and special effects during the 3D projection-mapping extravaganza that is the Osaka Castle Illuminage.
Time: 5pm–10pm • Admission: ¥1,500 adults • Access: Tanimachi Subway line, Tanimachi-4-Chome Stn • illuminagegroup.com/osakacastleilluminage2019-english
Dec 6–8, 13–15, 20–22, 24–29
Expo ‘70 Commemorative Park
3D projection-mapping changes the face of this famous symbol, Tower of the Sun. Cutting-edge images and music are put together to make an unforgettable show.
Time: Sunset–9pm (Last entry at 8:30pm) • Admission: Free (¥260 park entry) • Osaka Monorail, Banpaku Kinen-koen Stn • expo70-park.jp/languages/english
Ibaraki Bamboo Illumination
Dec 7, Soji Temple
Using local bamboo from Ibaraki city, thousands of lanterns made from bamboo shoots will be hung at Soji Temple with accompanying live music and local foods.
Time: 4pm • Admission: Free • Access: Hankyu Line, Souji-ji Stn; JR Line, Souji-ji Stn • ibarakitaketourou.com
Kyoto Arashiyama Hanatouro
Dec 13–22, Saga & Arashiyama
Explore the dimly lit paths in Saga and Arashiyama. Togetsukyo Bridge will be illuminated, diffusing light onto the backdrop of autumn-colored mountains. Visitors can stroll through the scenic bamboo forest walkway between Nonomiya Shrine to Okouchi Sanso Villa. The main walkways will feature carefully crafted ikebana flower arrangements.
Time: 5pm–8:30pm • Free • Access: Hankyu line, Arashiyama Stn • hanatouro.jp/e/arashiyama/index.html
Nara Rurie (Blue Illumination)
Feb 8–14, Nara Park & surroundings
Nara will be illuminated in a beautiful blue hue as part of its annual winter tradition. The lights scattered across Nara Park are the enchanting blue color of ruri (lapis lazuli stone). Neighboring venues such as Kasuga Shrine, Kofuku-ji, and Todai-ji will open at night for visitors to enjoy the light displays.
Time: 6pm–9pm • Access: Kintetsu Line, Nara Stn • Admission: Free • rurie.jp/en
Dec 6–15, The Former Foreign Settlement & Surroundings
Stroll through this Italian-style illumination in the heart of Kobe. The main spectacle is Nakamachi street where visitors can walk through a 50-meter arcade of lights. A ¥100 donation is welcomed.
Time: 6pm–9:30pm Mon to Thu; 6pm–10pm Fri ; 5pm–10pm Sat ; 5pm–9:30pm Sun • Admission: Free • Access: JR/Hanshin Line, Motomachi Stn • kobe-luminarie.jp