Japan, famous for its cutting-edge technology, has artfully used tech to brighten the darkest of winter months. From mid-October to early May, on an island at the end of the Kiso River, 8.5 million LED lights depicting the wonders of nature will be on display.

The illumination festival is held at Nabana no Sato flower park, one of Japan’s largest gardens. During the spring and summer, the park is awash in color from brilliant, natural blooms, but in winter, even brighter colors emit from these glowing LED lights.

Winter light festivals are popular across Japan, but Nabana no Sato is one of the largest and most unique. Each year, the designers choose a theme — past themes have included the Swiss Alps, the Aurora Borealis, Niagara Falls, Mount Fuji, and most recently, the 2018 theme honoring Kumamoto, a prefecture rocked by the April 2016 earthquakes.

One thing that never changes, however, are the tunnels of light. The original tunnel is some 200 meters long and uses 1.2 million LEDs. The more recent addition, the Kawazu Sakura light tunnel, is about half the length with 700,000 bulbs, and is designed to emulate the Kawazu cherry tree. Pretty and pink, it’s very popular with love-struck couples — and Instagram influencers, of course.

The park is enormous, so expect to walk a lot. The good news is that there is an ashiyu foot bath to refresh your tired soles and warm up from the cold, with water pulled from an underground hot spring. The foot bath is free to use, and there are towel vending machines for drying off (or you can bring your own).

How to get there

Nabana no Sato is about 30 minutes by bus and train from central Nagoya. Take either the JR or Kintetsu train to Kuwana station, then take a direct bus to the park. Alternatively, you can catch a bus from the Meitetsu Bus Center (located next to the Nagoya train station), which will take you directly to Nabana no Sato.

What to consider

  • Nabana no Sato is open year round from 9:00 AM-9:00 PM, but it stays open an extra hour during the winter illumination festival.
  • Admission is 2300 yen for the winter illumination and 1600 yen the rest of the year.
  • Admission includes a 1000-yen gift certificate that you can use at the restaurants or to purchase a souvenir inside the park.
  • Nabana no Sato is part of Nagashima Resort. The resort has five main facilities: Nagashima Spa Land Amusement Park, Joyful Water Park, Mitsui Outlet Shopping Park, Nagashima Onsen, and Nabana no Sato.
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