Sendai’s Pageant of Starlight
By Megan Kitt
Strolling through Sendai’s annual Pageant of Light illumination feels like strolling through a tree-lined Christmas tunnel. The lights on either side of the city’s most popular street create a festive, warm effect that combats the cold of winter.
At the end of every year, the tall zelkova trees along Jozenjidori are lit with hundreds of thousands of lights, creating a bright and festive pathway for visitors and commuters alike.
At the end of the illumination – hailed as the “tunnel of light” – there are heated tents that provide welcome relief from the nighttime winter weather and festival-like food and drink. Surrounding the tents are more illuminations, in the shape of hearts or otherwise love-themed, making the illumination a haven for couples on their first dates or hundredth.
While the illumination itself likely isn’t worth a separate trip to Sendai (it’s just under two hours by Shinkansen from Tokyo Station), those looking for a winter retreat can combine their stroll along Jozenjidori with other nearby attractions, like the Akiu Falls, a small waterfall outside the city, the nearby onsens and Sendai Castle.
The Pageant of Starlight illumination begins daily at 4:30 p.m. and ends at 11 p.m. Even on weekdays, the walkway is bustling with people admiring the lights, though the crowd thins the later it gets. The illumination runs throughout December.
The Pageant of Starlight runs until December 31. The lights get turned on from 5:30 pm to 11:00 pm.
From Sendai Station, take the Namboku Line toward Izumicho for two stops. Get off at Kotodaikoen Station and follow the exit signs for Jozenjidori.
From Tokyo Station, take the Akita Shinkansen toward Akita. Get off at Sendai Station and take the Naboku Line to Kotodaikoen Station.