Hokkaido, the land of snow, becomes even more beautiful with the glittering illuminations against the white snow, making it a special way to enjoy winter. Here are 5 illuminations to check out in Hokkaido.
1. Shiroi Koibito Park Illumination
This theme park, run by Ishiya Seika, the confectionery maker behind the famous Shiroi Koibito, turns into a fairy tale world with the winter illumination. Inside the park is a 10m tree, Santa Claus' sled, reindeer statues, 250 snowmen lined up in the windows of a building, and other sights that number 110,000 lights total. The gorgeous lights decorating Santa's sled makes it the most popular photo spot. You can ride it for your picture! Making your own original Shiroi Koibito and then enjoying the illuminations is another plan attracting visitors.
Will be held from early November, 2016, to March 20th (Monday), 2017 (scheduled)
2. Hakodate Illumination
Hakodate, often called one of Japan's top three nightscapes, is a city that seems like it's from another country, and it only gets more romantic with illuminations! About 50,000 lights decorate the huge Christmas tree floating in the sea (until December 25th (Sunday)). The area in front of Hakodate Station up Kaikou-dori, as well as areas of Motomachi (like Nijukenzaka and Hachimanzaka) are decorated, and the sight of the road of light headed towards the ocean from the top of the hill is beauty you can't see anywhere else. The Hakodate winter fireworks launched above the sea happen over five days starting February 6th (Monday), and the first day is a special candle night. They also have a night market called Yoruichi at Hakodate Asaichi Market.
Will be held from December 1st (Thursday), 2016 to February 28th (Tuesday), 2017
3. Toyako Onsen Illumination Street and Illumination Tunnel
Winter evening on the shore of Lake Toya transforms into a romantic world thanks to more than 400,000 lights. Illumination Street is a road that continues from Toyako Onsengai to the lakeshore, and the blue and white lights that look like reflections of the snow and the water are said to be magical-looking. No matter how you look at the 70m long Illumination Tunnel, whether it be looking through it from the entrance or looking up while in it, you'll feel as though you're in a glittery dream. The snow that falls between the lights is a rare experience, and afterwards, the hot springs await your cold body. This event is popular with families and couples.
Illumination Street will be held from November 1st (Tuesday), 2016 to March 31st (Friday), 2017
Illumination Tunnel will be held from November 11th (Friday), 2016 to March 5th (Sunday), 2017
4. Otaru Yuki Monogatari
You can see the Otaru Canal become the Canal in Blue in this illumination event. Otaru Canal, which already has a nostalgic atmosphere, becomes even more romantic. Otaru is also called a city of glass, and there are various decorations such as a wine glass tower and a tree decorated with ukidama, glass balls used as a fishing tool. There are many photo spots here that you can't find anywhere else. In early February, they hold the Otaru Yuki Akari no Michi, and about 2,000 residents decorate the town with handmade candles. The flickering lights of the candles make everything seem magical. When Otaru is snowy, it's incredibly beautiful.
Will be held from November 12th (Saturday), 2016 to February 12th (Sunday), 2017
5. Sapporo White Illumination
The 520,000 lights decorate Sapporo's first snow and dynamically transform it from a snowy paradise to a magical world. The street running north-south from Odori Park is the venue for this illumination. Both the TV Tower, which changes color every hour, and the sight of the illuminations spreading out below you from the top of the tower are both beautiful. There are many artistic illuminations such as trees and large objet de art, and there's also a German Christmas market. The tree-lined Sapporo Ekimae-dori and Minami Ichijo-dori, which runs east-west, also become tunnels of light>
Odori Park: November 18th (Friday) to December 25th (Sunday), 2016
Ekimae-dori: November 18th (Friday), 2016 to February 12th (Sunday), 2017
Minami Ichijo-dori: November 18th (Friday), 2016 to March 14th (Tuesday), 2017
Hokkaido's illuminations are made even more beautiful by the color of the snow and the clear air. All of these events are held over a long period of time, so you can add skiing or a hot spring visit to your itinerary and create an enjoyable winter trip in Hokkaido.
*Please note that the information in this article is from the time of writing or publication and may differ from the latest information.
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