One of Japan’s Best Winter Illuminations at Nabana no Sato
By John Asano
Now that we have hit December it is beginning to feel a lot like winter. One of the things I love most about the winter season here in Japan is the spectacular winter illuminations that can be seen across the country. One of the very best is at Nabana no Sato (なばなの里) in Mie Prefecture.
Nabana no Sato is a theme park dedicated to flowers. Located on the island of Nagashima in Kuwana City, the park is famous for its seasonal flower shows. While I do enjoy the beautiful flowers on display the highlight for me every year is the winter illuminations.
Nabana no Sato can claim to have one of the biggest and best illumination displays in all of Japan.
Japan doesn’t hold back when it comes to lights and Nabana no Sato is no exception. The park is illuminated with around 8 million LED lights, which turn it into a winter wonderland straight out of a fairy tale.
The theme of the displays changes from year to year. Last year the theme was “Nature” featuring a giant LED illuminated model of the World Heritage Mount Fuji. This year, the main display and theme is “Niagara Falls”. The huge scale illumination of Niagara Falls is stunning at about 20 meters in height and 120 meters in width.
One thing that doesn’t change every year is the world famous light tunnel. The tunnel is created using around 1.2 million light bulbs, and is truly spectacular at 200 meters in length. It draws in the crowds each and every year. It is definitely my favourite part of the winter illuminations at Nabana no Sato.
A new addition in recent times has been the Kawazu Sakura light tunnel. Just as spectacular as the light tunnel but not quite as large or long. It is around 100 meters long with 700,000 pink LED lights. The tunnel is popular with couples and is designed to resemble the Kawazu cherry tree, which is an early blooming variety of cherry tree. It certainly attracts the eye with its pink colour and is a hint of the warmth of spring which is a few months away.
The park is quite large and does involve a lot of walking, so you will be glad to hear that there is also an “ashiyu” foot bath. The foot spa is free to use and is a welcome relief to soak your tired feet as well as to warm up from the cold. The foot spa is made from natural spring water contained underground. Make sure to bring a small towel to enjoy the experience.
Entry to the park is ¥2,000 during winter, which includes an in-store coupon of ¥1,000 to use within the park. This can be used to purchase some souvenirs at the shops, or even used to put towards a meal at one of the many restaurants around the park.
My favourite is the full size beer hall called the Nagashima Beer Garden (長島地ビール園). It is a must for any beer lover and features 3 types of locally brewed craft beer, as well as some pretty tasty izakaya style bar food.
Address: 270 Komae, Nagashima-cho, Kuwana City, Mie Prefecture 511-1144
Hours: 9:00 am to 9:00 pm
Admission: Standard ¥1,500 Winter ¥2,000
Winter Illuminations: October 25, 2014 to March, 31 2015
From Nagoya you can take either a JR or Kintetsu train to Kuwana Station. Take a non-stop direct bus to Nabana no Sato (なばなの里) from Kuwana Station bus rotary, which is right in front of Sangi Nishi Kuwana Station. Buses run every 30 minutes or so and it’s about a 10 minute ride and ¥240 one-way.
If you’re coming by car from Nagoya both Route 23 and Route 1 cross the island of Nagashima. Once on the island, follow signs for Nabana no Sato. By expressway, The Higashi Meihan Expressway (東名阪自動車道) crosses the island of Nagashima. Get off at the Nagashima Interchange (長島IC) and follow the signs to the park.