Hiroshima Dreamination: One of the Best Winter Events in the City

ByJustin Hanus
Oct 27, 2023

Hiroshima Dreamination: One of the Best Winter Events in the City

For more than two decades, Hiroshima has held Dreamination every winter. Downtown is transformed with around 500 figures and tunnels made from a million and a half LED lights. Dreamination has become one of the winter events the city is most renowned for, attracting thousands of people. After an inauguration, the lights turn on every evening from mid November to early January. Best of all, the entire display is completely free.

What is Dreamination?

Dreamination is all about celebrating fairytales. Although it’s a winter event, you’ll see many figures you don’t normally associate with the season, such as whales, trains, and phoenixes. You’re welcome to walk right up close to these displays — in fact, they’re great for taking selfies. If you’re coming with your partner, the romantic spots are particularly ideal photo opportunities. For instance, look out for hearts hanging from the trees.

In addition to marveling at each of the illuminated figures individually, it’s worth following the story they collectively tell. Each year has a different theme and backstory — in 2023, the theme is Fairyland, but the exact story is still to be released. It’s usually possible to find a translation from the Japanese into English. In the past, stories have included elaborate displays like golden forests, fields of flowers, ice staircases, and hot air balloons.

Where to See Dreamination

The main site of Dreamination is Peace Boulevard (Heiwa Odori), which runs from the Peace Memorial Park to the Fukuromachi streetcar station to the East. However, there are other illuminations nearby, including at Hiroshima Crystal Palace, NHK Hiroshima, and several hotels. In fact, one of the best places to visit is Peace Memorial Park, which looks completely different when it’s illuminated. The river is particularly attractive, as the surface of the water reflects the twinkling fairy lights. In total, Dreamination spans for around two kilometers.

The best way to see Dreamination for the first time is to walk the avenue from end to end. If you have the chance to go back a few times, revisit your favorite spots or take a different route to discover things you may have missed the first time. Wandering through the streets of lights is the perfect activity for a winter evening — especially if you have a hot sake or cocoa.

Illuminated Streetcars

In addition to the static lights, Hiroshima Electric Railway streetcars take part in Dreamination. You’ll see many running past in the evening, full of partiers. If you have the chance, it’s worth taking a ride on one of the streetcars to see the lights from another viewpoint.

Message of Peace

Events in Hiroshima often feature a message of peace — and Dreamination is no exception. At past events, a section of Dreamination has included words and images related to peace, such as doves and figures linking hands.
Hiroshima Dreamination in 2023 will run from November 17 to January 3. If you’ll be in the city over these months, make sure you head downtown between 5:30 p.m. and 10:30 p.m. to see the lights for yourself.

warabi hatogaya, CC BY 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

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