Shining Winter Illuminations: Goryokaku and More

Shining Winter Illuminations: Goryokaku and More
(This special article is a partnership project with YAHOO!)
Winter in Japan is the season of outdoor illuminations, bringing color and light to the frigid city streets. And while people usually think of illuminations as something to go see as part of a romantic evening, they are actually great for relaxed after-dinner strolls too. We hope you will enjoy not just the traditional beauty of Japan but also the vibrant multihued world created by these illuminations.

Arashiyama Light and Blossoms Pathway(Kyoto)

Held in 2015 from December 11 (Fri.) to December 20 (Sun.), the Kyoto/Arashiyama Light and Blossoms Pathway (“Hanatoro”) involves illuminations that brighten up locales like the Togetsukyo Bridge and the Sagano Bamboo Forest. The event brings an extra charm to the start of winter in the old capital of Japan.
Floating in a sea of soft light, the otherworldly beauty of the scenery here only seems more profound. These are sights you cannot see anywhere else, and will leave you speechless. The illumination begins at 17:00 and ends at 20:30.

Aze no Kirameki Illumination(Ishikawa)

The broad terraces of Shiroyone Senmaida include more than 1,000 rice paddies and are frequently referred to as the “holy land of Japanese agriculture”. From October 10, 2015 (Sat.) to March 13, 2016 (Sun.), after sunset the slopes are transformed into a landscape of illuminated beauty as 21,000 solar LED lamps bathe the rice paddies in a magical light.

These solar LED lights are carefully placed one by one around the area by volunteers. So under winter skies, these warm lights filled with human kindness are symbolic of winter in Japan. The lights are on for four hours after sunset, but the best viewing time is from 18:00 to 20:00.

Goryo Hoshi no Yume(Hokkaido)

Floating up out of the surrounding snow-dusted earth, the star-shaped fort Goryokaku truly looks like a single star shining in the dark. From November 28, 2015 (Sat.) to February 29, 2016 (Mon.), an illumination event called Goryo Hoshi no Yume (“Goryo Star Dream”) will be held at the fort.

Brimming with a feel of the fantastic, “Goryo Hoshi” has become one of the highlights of the Hakodate winter. It’s hard to see the star shape while standing at ground level, but you’ll be able to take it all in from the observation deck on top of Goryokaku Tower. The Tower is open from 9:00 to 19:00 during the Goryo Hoshi no Yume event, and the illumination runs from 17:00 to 20:00.

Yuki-toro Snow Lanterns at Miyama Kayabuki no Sato(Kyoto)

Miyama in Kyoto Prefecture is a place where the pastoral beauty of old Japan lives on. When topped with snow and lit by the gently shifting glow of the lanterns, the thatched-roof farm houses of Kayabuki no Sato look like something from a dream.

During the event period, you can try out making snow lanterns for yourself, which allows you to not only enjoy but also contribute to this gorgeous landscape of light. Also, don’t miss out on the fireworks shows on the first and last day of the event, which in 2016 runs from January 30 (Sat.) to February 6 (Sat.).

Rainbow Bridge Special Light-up(Tokyo)

During the Christmas season, Odaiba is alive with a variety of events like illuminations and firework shows. And the Rainbow Bridge Special Light-up adds even more colorful excitement to the area.

It’s only in winter that the bridge takes on all seven colors of the rainbow. The winter lights of the Rainbow Bridge bring a touch of warmth and romance to the cold winter skies. And while its popular for couples out for a leisurely drive, don’t forget that the bridge walkway is free to enter and perfect for a romantic stroll.

The Rainbow Bridge Special Light-up is scheduled from December 5, 2015 (Sat.) to January 3, 2016 (Sun.). The pedestrian walkway on the bridge is open from 10:00 to 18:00 (last entry thirty minutes before closing).

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