You Need to Include These Beautiful Illumination Spots in Your Japan Holiday Itinerary

This is what it's like walking through a winter wonderland.

Illumination events have become a big thing in Japan, especially during the winter. This is usually the time when the whole metropolis is a landscape of silvery snow and when brilliant lights dot the entire area.

If you’re looking for a night experience filled with fantastic and colorful lights, Japan has several illumination spots that just might be up your alley. In this article, we take a look at two nature illumination spots in the Tochigi and Yamagata Prefecture.

Yunishigawa Onsen Kamakura Matsuri
Yunishigawa Onsengai, 1042, Yunishigawa, Nikko City, Tochigi Prefecture
Contact: +81-288-22-1525 (Nikko City Tourism Association)

Yunishigawa Onsen Kamakura Matsuri (Yunishigawa Hot Spring Igloo Festival, Nikko City, Tochigi Prefecture)

The highlight of the night is the light-up illumination at the riverside area. There, you’ll find a number of small igloos, made by the locals, bathed in warm light.

This year marks the 26th year of the biggest festival held in the Tochigi Prefecture. Although the snow during the daytime is a sight to behold, the main highlight of the event is really it’s fantastic night scene, featuring the illumination of many small igloos by the riverside area.

It was even designated as a “Night View Heritage of Japan”. Aside from the igloos, romantic lanterns grace the pathways of the area. The light-up of
Heike no Sato, as well as the hot springs, also contribute to the romantic atmosphere of the place.

The BBQ experience in Kamakura is something you won’t see anywhere else. Have your fill of freshly grilled beef and vegetables!

The Illumination Event will be held from January 26 to March 3, 2019. The best time to be there is at dusk when the whole area is tinted with blue.

ZAO 2019 ZAO Juhyo Matsuri
Zao Onsen Ski Resort, 229-3, Zao Onsen, Yamagata City, Yamagata Prefecture
Contact: +81-23-694-9518 (Zao Ropeway)
Open from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. The schedule of the last ropeway is at 7:50 p.m.
In December 2018, it will be closed from December 24 to 28. In January 2019, it will be closed from Mondays to Thursdays except on January 1 and 2. In February 2019, it will be closed on Tuesdays.
The ropeway fare (round trip) costs ¥2,800 for adults and ¥1,400 for children.

ZAO 2019 ZAO Juhyo Matsuri (Zao Snow Monster Festival, Yamagata City, Yamagata Prefecture)

February is the season of snow monsters (trees covered with frost). During this period, you can enjoy the beauty of the formations.

It takes a minimum of 18 minutes to traverse the entire snow monster field by ropeway. These snow monsters appear on the large-scale ski slope in Tohoku as a result of the winter weather at Zao. As a group, the trees form some kind of silvery white world.


The scene takes a sudden turn at night when the trees stand out through their colorful lighting. Walking through the area will feel as if you strayed into another world. The cold is something that you’ll have to prepare for since the temperature at the place drops as low as 10 degrees below zero.

You wouldn’t want to miss the Taimatsu-Kasso event where 1,000 skiers will glide down the slope while holding LED lights in both hands. This event will be held on the night of February 2, 2019, with an entrance fee of ¥1,000.

The Illumination Event will be held from December 22, 2018 to March 3, 2019. The best place to see the illumination and the night scene is at the ropeway’s Sancho station, which is 1,661 meters above sea level.

Provided by Japan Walker™, Walkerplus™, and Tokyo Walker™ (7 November 2018)

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