If you are lucky enough to be in Japan in the holiday season, there are some stunning illuminations and displays in Osaka and Kyoto. While not quite as numerous or as crazy as in Tokyo, they are definitely worth checking them out while you do a bit of Christmas shopping. Japan may not be a Christian country, but they sure do know how to do illuminations, and they are often considered some of the best in the world. Here are our top picks. By the way, all are FREE of course!
Kyoto Station Building
From Nov. 14 to Christmas Day, a large, traditionally lit Christmas tree will be on display just outside the station. As Kyoto’s sister city is Florence, Italy the tree uses the symbol of the city, a lily, as a motif. There will also be various events while the tree is up. There is also a Christmas Carnival Garden (7F East Square) that continues until Feb. 29.
Access: Kyoto station (on all major lines)
Kyoto Arashiyama Hanatouro
Something a little different here. The bamboo trees of Arashiyama are stylishly lit up. A very classy way to do winter illuminations in Japan, which can seem a bit cheesy sometimes!
When: Dec. 11 to Dec. 30
Osaka Festival of Light
Countless illumination displays, projection mapping, dance events and so much more. Mostly in 2 downtown areas of Osaka, this might take more than one night to do. Highlights include ‘Wall Tapestry’ display and the cute ‘Smile Art’ childrens display.
When: Various times.
Access: Around Naniwabashi station and Mido-suji street (Umeda to Shinsaibashi station)
Osaka Castle 3D Mapping Super Illumination
Amazing projection mapping and light up displays at the iconic castle. Get yourself a drink, some snacks and enjoy the view.
When: Dec. 13 to March. 1
Access: Best to view from gardens around Osaka Castle
If you are west of Osaka, this is the place to go in the winter. This light festival happens every year to commemorate the Great Hanshin earthquake. Simple but spectacular.
When: Dec. 4 to Dec. 13
Access: Near Motomachi station. From Former Foreign Settlement of Kobe (旧外国人居留地) to Higashi Yuenchi Park(東遊園地)
Be sure to visit the illuminations in Tokyo as well!