Don’t let the cold stop you from heading outside as there are beautiful displays of holiday lights throughout the Kansai region. Get out of the house and away from your kerosene heater to see as many of the winter illuminations as possible this December. They’ll leave you feeling full of holiday cheer.
Every year, Universal Studios Japan holds a large Christmas celebration, complete with illuminations, a live show, and special seasonal treats. This year seems to be a bit subdued, but the park is open.
One of the most famous illuminations not just in Kansai but in all of Japan, Kobe Luminarie, sees millions of visitors every year. Unlike other illuminations, the display has a special meaning as it honors the Great Hanshin Earthquake victims of 1995. Kobe Luminarie is a historic illumination that features Italian-inspired cathedral facades that you can walk underneath in the evenings.
All year-round, the main street of Harborland is illuminated with gaslights. In December, these are joined by about 100,000 sparkling white lights in the trees. Gaslight Street is always an ideal place for a nighttime stroll, but the additional holiday lights make a visit even more worthwhile in December.
Where: 1-3 Higashikawasakicho, Chuo Ward, Kobe, Hyogo Prefecture 650-0044 (map link)
The Festival of Lights in Osaka consists of a couple of different events.
The first is Midosuji Illumination, internationally recognized for having the most illuminated trees in the world. It spans the 4-kilometer stretch of Midosuji Street from the Oebashi-Kitazune Intersection to the Hanshin Mae Intersection. On the first day of the festival, the street is closed to cars to allow pedestrians to enjoy the lights.
Second, you have the Osaka Hikari-Renaissance, a light show on the historic Osaka City Central Public Hall facade. This year, it has a Taiwanese theme.
Where: Midosuji Street (map link) and Osaka City Central Public Hall (map link)
Website: What is the Festival of the Lights in OSAKA?｜Festival of the Lights in OSAKA 2020 (hikari-kyoen.com)
The Kaiyukan Aquarium is one of the largest aquariums in the world. For the winter season, the park holds an aquatic-themed illumination, created with 1.2 million lights. Whale sharks, dolphins, and other sea creatures swim around the lights in the aquarium entrance. You can see most of the illumination for free, as it doesn’t require entry to the aquarium.
If your neck is tired from staring up at all the lights and your eyes need a break from the glow, head over to the German Christmas Market. After enjoying the lights, you can shop for traditional and unique gifts. Held every year at Umeda Sky Building with an illuminated Christmas tree as the centerpiece, it’s a lively celebration filled with holiday cheer.