Who says Japan doesn’t celebrate Christmas?! Certainly no one in Hiroshima, that’s for sure! In fact, I could nearly go so far as to say that the Japanese do it better than us Westerners with their Christmas ‘fried chicken,’ Christmas cakes and of course, Christmas light displays all over the country.
Not to be left out, Hiroshima Prefecture is famous for its many illumination events including Hiroshima’s Botanical Gardens display and further afield in Shobara, to the north of Hiroshima City. These are a little harder to get to and do take a bit of planning beforehand, but they are both well worth it.
If you’re looking for something a little closer to home though, Hiroshima’s Dreamination is centrally located and thus, deciding to go can be a spur-of-the-moment decision.
Dreamination begins in mid November and runs for nearly two months until January. During this time Peace Boulevard is illuminated with thousands of Christmas lights elaborately assembled in various displays including a merry-go-round for kids (or big kids, aka adults!)
For those people desperately missing their Christmas Tree don’t worry because you’ll find a gigantic one outside of Pacela shopping centre next to SOGO Department Store. It may not fit in your apartment or house and no, you can’t take it home, but it’s just so beautiful that this year you won’t mind sharing it with others in a public space.
It can get very busy along Peace Boulevard both with road traffic and pedestrian traffic. My advice, especially if you have little children is to go really early in the evening when the lights are first turned on at 5.30 or, if you don’t have children, just before 10.30 when the lights are turned off for the night. Yes, the pace may be slow because people stop to take photos, but you cannot help but smile and share the Christmas cheer with everyone you pass. Young couples and families usually dominate the event, but don’t let that put you off if you’re single or want to go alone. Even dear old Ebenezer Scrooge (or my mum) couldn’t resist getting involved in the festive spirit, which is alive and well.
The best part of all is that it’s absolutely free! Of course, as families with children are very well aware, it’s a welcome addition to a season and time of the year where spending money can get out of hand.
My advice for the event is firstly to rug up in warm clothes because the temperature does drop drastically when the sun goes down. I guarantee though that no matter how cold it gets, you won’t be able to wipe the smile off your face when you see the lights.
Even better is making a night of it with dinner beforehand or afterwards at one of the many restaurants downtown. If you want to sit and people watch and enjoy the lights for a bit longer, there is the option of grabbing some easy-to-eat food from home or one of the convenience stores nearby. Either way you’ll have a great time!
Merry Christmas from Hiroshima!