Blog Archives

Tokyo German Village – Winter Illumination

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Tokyo German Village is a park in Chiba, located about two hours from central Tokyo. The park offers facilities for families, flower events, a souvenir shop and German food. It’s not an educational place meant to teach you German – in many ways it’s very much a Japanese park.

Winter is time for the illumination festival when the whole park turns into an LED wonderland. Illumination festivals at parks like Tokyo German Village (Tokyo Doitsu Mura 東京ドイツ村) are usually more impressive than the festivals in central Tokyo. The festival lights and motives also change every year, encouraging people to visit the park at least once a year.

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This year’s Winter Illumination Shangri-La started on November 8 and will continue until March 31. The lights are switched on from 4 to 8 pm, last entrance is at 7.30 pm. Until early January, a shuttle bus will run from Sodegaura Station (Uchibo Line) to Tokyo German Village. The whole trip took me about two hours, but it was well worth it! Read the rest of this entry


Sendai Pageant of Starlight Illumination festival

Sendai was the biggest Japanese city hit by the tsunami and earthquake, although if you walk in the city centre you will not notice it. Some roads are still blocked, however. What was lost in the tsunami were the lights for the illumination festival because they were stored near the sea. Fortunately, the organizers of the Omotesando light display offered Sendai 60000 lights. Sendai also bought new lights.

Nowadays LED lights are common which consume less energy while still allowing impressive illumination displays.

The Sendai illumination festival is one of the few which is also advertised in other Japanese cities and is used to promote tourism to the region. Sendai is the biggest city in the Tohoku region and can be reached in under two hours by Shinkansen from Tokyo.


Sendai is also known as the “city of trees” and while decorating trees with lights is done in all cities, the Sendai illumination is impressive due to its scale. The lights just don’t seem to end! There was also a santa driving around and waving to the people. Read the rest of this entry

Sapporo White Illumination Festival

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This holiday I try to visit as many illumination festivals as possible and the Sapporo White Illumination Festival was first on my list. Illumination festivals are usually held from the end of November until christmas although some are longer. Small parts of the one in Sapporo are held until the start of the snow festival when snow and ice sculptures will be built at Odori Park.

The illumination festival has different sections. The first one is on the same square as the TV tower and is the “Love Tree”.

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Love Tree with Space Tree in the background

The second one is the more futuristic “Space Tree”, a kind of modern interpretation of the christmas tree. During the Munich Christmas Market (until December 24) the tree will be in the center of the market.

The main part of the festival is located on the next two squares. Read the rest of this entry

Roppongi Hills and Midtown illumination

Most illumination events end tomorrow so I just had to go for another photo trip. The list provided in the “Divable Tokyo” group on Facebook certainly helped 🙂

Roppongi has two illumination events to offer, one near Roppongi Hills and the other near Tokyo Midtown. First I went to the Midtown one where one could see this thing:


It changed colours which was accompanied by “Oooh”s and “Aaah”s from the people watching the event.

Much more impressive was the rest: There were animated trees and a big field illuminated with little blue lights. Sometimes white lights would flare up, setting this sea of light into motion. Impressive, most impressive!


Just on the other side of the street was a good opportunity to see the current Japanese cellphones: A stylized christmas tree with lots of glitter, sound effects and light changes which most people only saw through the display of their mobile (me included).


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Eternal Lights – Light Festival in Ebisu


Shinjuku set the bar for illumination events quite high (they had penguins!) so I travelled with great expectations to Ebisu Station which is the next station after Shinjuku on the Yamanote Line. There is a skywalk connecting the station and the Yebisu Garden Place.


Although there is a beer museum, they didn’t have an illuminated beer bottle. Instead, they had a big christmas tree, various decorated trees and a chandelier in the centre.

While I give the chandelier points for style, it lacks in originality. In the end I wasn’t very enthusiastic about what I’ve seen, there are much better illumination events in Tokyo.


Penguins in Shinjuku!


Finally the people who create the Shinjuku Southern Lights saw the light – or rather the penguin: After visiting Rikugien I made a stopover at Shinjuku station to see this year’s illumination. It’s really an improvement compared to last year and they had a couple of penguins on display with christmas hats and wards.


Of course the trees were decorated as well, although in the same fashion as last year. Shinjuku Southern Lights is an annual event held at the Shinjuku Southern Terrace. There is a Starbucks and a Krispy Kreme donut store, the latter one easily recognisable because there is always a long queue of people waiting to buy a donut regardless of the weather. My theory is that fifty percent are only joining the queue because they saw other people waiting there.


Anyway, highlight of this year’s illumination was probably a small dome with a lamp resembling a well inside it. Couples or family went inside, pressed some button and then the well would change colour and mumble something.

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A lot of cities have light festivals these days and Seoul is no exception. The Lucevista consists of severall light installations in the city and all can be reached by foot. But various other companies also installed lights so you basically needed a map to find the Lucevista ones. I had one and found an impressive gate on my way.

The first impressive one was a well with “streams” of light. When I used my tripod there I was asked by a woman where the other Lucevista lights are. She had a map but couldn’t find the other ones. At this point I had only visited two installations so I couldn’t help her.

By far the most impressive one was the “circle” near City Hall with an ice skating area in the middle. I didn’t see the second part of it until wednesday. Read the rest of this entry