Winter season is here and one of Japan's best winter illuminations is Nabana No Sato, in Mie prefecture. Even though the annual illuminations have been ongoing annually for more than ten years, visitors are still mainly from within Japan, and is not yet popular internationally. With more than 8 million LED illuminated lights, there is certainly no holding back, in turning the massive place into a winter wonderland. Illuminations in the city usually have space constraints, but Nabana No Sato has a massive amount of space to showcase their illuminations.
The theme changes every year, and this year the popular Kumamon character from Kumamoto prefecture is the star of the show. Previous themes include "Nature", "Waterfalls", "Aurora" and "Flowers".
Upon entry, you will be awestruck by the vast amount of lights, and the photo taking frenzy would begin. There is a recommended route to follow, and as you move forward, the lights would just get more and more amazing. One feature that remains every year is the tunnel of lights, a very popular photo spot, whereby you can walk through a tunnel surrounded by colored lights, which stretches for 200 meters. A new addition in recent times is the sakura light tunnel. Shorter at 100 meters, it is beautifully decorated with pink LED lights.
There is also a huge onsen bath with an amazing view of the flowers. Restaurants and food carts are aplenty. I even spotted huge melon pain (a type of sweet bun popular in Japan) bigger than my face!
Entrance tickets are slightly expensive at 2300 yen, but includes a 1000 yen coupon, which can be used at restaurants and souvenir shops. However these Illuminations are some of the longest in Japan, stretching for more than half a year, from mid October to mid May. Entering just before the sun sets is suggested, so as to view the flowers in daylight, and then to see the spectacular illuminations in the night.
There are buses from either Nagoya, Nagashima or Kuwana stations.
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I still clearly remember the day I first landed in Japan, and since then it has been my goal to set foot in all 47 prefectures. I try to look for less touristy areas, preferring the countryside to the city. I'm always amazed by the many Haagen Dazs and ice cream flavors available only in Japan.