It may be cold in Japan, but holiday lights are a tempting and beautiful excuse to get out of the house and away from that kerosene heater! Especially in the Kansai region, different illuminations taking place throughout December will leave you dazzled with holiday cheer without costing you any of your Christmas money. Grab a warm jacket, and perhaps some kairo to keep your hands warm and head out to see these glowing displays!
Universal Studios Japan “World’s Most Illuminated Christmas Tree”
If you are hankering for Christmas lights in Kansai there is no better starting point than the “world’s most illuminated Christmas tree.” It can be found at Universal Studios Japan, where the centerpiece dazzler in the center of the park’s New York Area has been certified as the World Record Holder for “the most lights on an artificial Christmas tree.”
Ranked number one amongst “the top 10 Christmas trees to see in your lifetime *3,” our legendary tree will make its final appearance this year. Draped in a solemn light for its last showing, the tree will take your breath away during the highlight of the evening when it is fully illuminated.
Perhaps one of the most famous illuminations across Japan, the Kobe Luminarie attracts thousands of visitors each year. Different from a normal holiday light-up, this display is put up every year in honor of the victims of the Great Hanshin Earthquake of 1995. This historic and beautiful illumination features gorgeous Italian-inspired cathedral facades and is now in its 21st year. You can walk beneath these glowing lights around the Motomachi Station on the JR Kobe Line in the evening.
Lighting of Gaslight Street
Along the mainstreet of Harborland in December, in addition to the timeless glow of the gaslights, 100,000 white lights sparkle in the trees. Keyaki street usually provides quite a beautiful nighttime walk with the gaslights and the nearby illuminated ferris wheel, but these extra holiday lights make a visit here even better in December.
Where: Keyaki street in Harborland, Kobe Harborland, Map Link
When: Throughout December
Osaka Festival of Lights
The “Festival of lights” in Osaka encompasses two prominent displays that are worth checking out this holiday season. Midosuji Illumination is recognized internationally as having the most illuminated trees in the world!. This gorgeous light show takes place across a 4 kilometer stretch from the Oebashi-Kitazune Intersection to the Hanshin Mae Intersection.
Where: Nakanoshima Park, from Oebashi-Kitazune to Hanshin Mae, Map Link
When: November 12 until December 31, 2017
The second major light display in the Festival of the Lights is the Osaka Hikari-Renaissance. In addition to dazzling light-up decorations, this illumination offers four showings per evening of a projection on the facade of the historic Nakanoshima Library.
Where: Between Osaka City Hall and Nakanoshima Park, Map Link
When: December 14th until December 25th
Osaka Aquarium Kaiyukan
The Kaiyukan Aquarium, one of the largest aquariums in the world, turns 25 years young this year and is celebrating with aquatic-themed illuminations created with 1.2 million lights. Whale sharks, dolphins and fanciful sea creatures dance around the entrance to the aquarium beginning on November 17 and continuing until March 4. Most of the Kaiyukan Winter Illumination can be viewed for free without entering the aquarium.
2017 dates are not announced yet
German Christmas Market Sky Building
If your neck gets too tired from looking at all the lights or your eyes need a break from the glow, be sure to head over to the German Christmas Market so you can still enjoy the lights, but take breaks to shop for traditional and unique gifts! Each year at the Umeda Sky Building, an illuminated giant Christmas tree sets the stage for a lively winter market filled with vendors and holiday cheer.
Where: Floating Garden Observatory at the Umeda Sky Building (map link)
When: November 17th until December 25th