Osaka’s Winter Illuminations

It is more or less common knowledge that Japan has a number of practices at Christmas time that can seem a bit unusual: Christmas KFC, Christmas boots, not to mention that Christmas is peak dating season much in the same way Valentine’s Day is in America. One thing that seems consistent however, are winter illuminations. Osaka’s winter illuminations are very well put together and while not always Christmas themed, these colorful displays of lights attract people of all ages —some are even free to visit.

Osaka’s Winter Illuminations!

Osaka Castle Illumination

2017 is the 150 year celebration of when Osaka Port became internationalized. To commemorate this, the castle added a large section of blue lights to represent Osaka Port. Much of the castle’s history is also on display.

white and red illuminated figures in the night
Representations of the Honganji monks whose temple stood here before Osaka Castle. The Honganji monks were also fierce warriors.
golden illumination of the gate of Osaka castle
Osaka Castle, Winter Illumination. The theme this year was Bakumatsu ( i.e. the end of Edo Period)

I was truly very impressed. Not only were there plenty of lights, but there were also performances, plenty of food vendors, and even interactive lights for young children.

collage of different brightly colored illuminations at osaka castle
Osaka Castle Winter Illumination

In 2017 Château des ducs de Bretagne and Osaka Castle became sister castles, so it was included in the light up this year.  

brightly colored illumination of a french castle at night
Display of Château des ducs de Bretagne

Begins: End of Nov- End of Feb

Price of Admission: 1,200 yen per person

Midosuji Illumination

Midosuji is one of Osaka’s largest and most trafficked streets. During the month of December, the city decks a section of with hundreds of lights for the Midosuji Illumination. For the first day that the lights are on display, the street is shut down for about two hours so that people may walk freely to enjoy them. The exact time the street is shut down varies every year, but in 2017 it was from 5:00-7:00 pm. 

Midosuji street decorated with lights for Osaka's winter illuminations
Midosuji Street
collage of all the different winter illumination on midosuji street
Midosuji Stree, Winter Illuminations

Begins: Mid-November – First week of Jan

Price of Admission: Free

Namba Parks “Hikari-Tabi” Illumination

Every year, Namba Parks Shopping Mall decorates their Parks Gardens with lights for its Hikari-Tabi Illumination. The theme is “enchanted garden” so there are fairies and large floral light decorations.

namba parks sign covered in blue and green lights
Namba Parks, Winter Illuminations

The illumination is very convenient because it is right next to Nankai Namba Station. I recommend coupling this with a stroll down Midosuji’s Light Festival afterwards.

bright flowery winter illumination display at namba parks
Namba Parks. Winter Illumination.
tunnel of blue lights
So blue!

Begins: Nov 11- Feb 25

Price of Admission: Free

Nagai Botanical Garden “Garden of Lights Festival”

Nagai Gardens does a brilliant job every year with their Garden of Light Festival. Much of the garden’s lights on the whole have a very Christmas-y feel to them, which is always nice.

gazebo covered in red pink and white christmas lights
Christmas gazebo
white christmas tree shaped illumination
Nagai Park, Garden of Lights
mother showing her children a beautiful blue and white illumination
Nagai Park, Garden of Lights Festival
white illumination of a horse and carriage
orange and yellow cactus shaped lights

Begins: Dec 16- Dec 25

Price of Admission: 1,000 yen per person

Nakanoshima Hikari no Renaissance

Osaka Public Hall and Nakanoshima Park light up during their annual Hikari no Renaissance. This is display is very convenient and easy to access—just take the Midosuji Line to Yodoyabashi and you are practically there.

tunnel of winter themed lights
Nakanoshima, Hikari no Renaissance

This is a free event, but you might end up spending some money on the delectable items the vendors sell. Hikari no Renaissance is one of the most popular of Osaka’s winter illuminations.

Osaka public hall covered in a 3-D image light show
Osaka Public Hall dressed up for the holidays.

2017 had a special Taiwan-style lantern festival as well!

Taiwanese style cardboard entrance filled with glowing lanterns
Lantern Festival
tunnel of colorful glowing lanterns
Lanterns were hand painted by school children

Be sure to go visit the rose garden in Nakanoshima Park too!

crowds of people looking at a series of glowing trees
Nakanoshima Park, Winter Illuminations
two inflatable snow man standing over a crowd

Begins: Dec 14- Dec 25

Price of Admission: Free


Osaka’s Winter Illuminations: Additional Infortmation

Official Osaka Festival of Lights Website
Time FrameNov 12- Dec 31
(subject to change annually)

Though Christmas is mostly just a dating holiday in Japan, no one can deny that light displays are always nice, regardless of theme. If you are spending Christmas in Japan this year then these light displays will give you a sense of home, while still being something new and exciting.

Coming next time,
A local favorite! Nagai Botanical Garden

The adventure continues…

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