Osaka, Japan's second largest metropolis, has plenty of gorgeous Christmas events like illuminations. Here are 5 Christmas events that can be enjoyed by couples or families.
1. Osaka Aquarium Kaiyukan
First is the Osaka Aquarium Kaiyukan, a popular world-class aquarium.
During the event, the entire facility is wrapped in illuminations with a theme of the underwater world! Many creatures light up the night as part of this illumination, including the symbol of this aquarium, a huge whale shark. There is also a zone with interactive steps where the steps change color when you walk on them, as well as a lighting ceremony where king penguins are in charge of turning the illuminations on. There are also performances by divers dressed as Santa, so you can spend a fun day here.
Kaiyukan illumination: November 22nd (Tuesday), 2016 to March 5th (Sunday), 2017 *Excluding when the aquarium is closed on January 11th (Wednesday), January 12th (Thursday), February 15th (Wednesday), and February 16th (Thursday), 2017
King penguin lighting ceremony: weekends and holidays between November 22nd (Tuesday) and December 25th (Sunday), 2016
2. Grand Front Osaka
Grand Front Osaka is a popular multi-use facility with around 270 shops and restaurants.
They have held a Christmas event for 4 years now, and 2016's theme is WINTER IN BLOSSOM. Everywhere in the building is decorated lavishly with flowers and illuminations. The 8m tall Christmas tree has a pure white design representing an eternal flower. A lighting show bathes the tree in various colors every 15 minutes. Also, the connected Umekita Plaza (about 1ha wide) is enveloped in a magical atmosphere thanks to the illuminations on the trees and around the water surrounding it. There is plenty to enjoy during the event, such as various photo spots set up around the area and a skate rink in Umekita Plaza.
On the 2nd floor of the southern building and the 1st floor of the northern building, there are information counters that can help in English, Japanese, Korean, and Chinese. If you need help or have a question, feel free to stop by. It's open from 10:00 am to 9:00 pm.
Event schedule: November 10th (Thursday) to December 25th (Sunday), 2016
Skate rink schedule: November 26th (Saturday), 2016 to February 18th (Saturday), 2017 *Closed on January 1st (Sunday), 2017
3. Hirakata Park
This popular amusement park in Hirakata holds an illumination event called Hikari no Yuuenchi ("amusement park of lights"). 2016 will be the biggest event so far, with 1.5 million lights decorating the park and creating a huge, magical atmosphere. The illuminations are different in each of the 7 areas. There are various types of illuminations, such as lights that change along with music, dancing soap bubbles, and a light tunnel.
The real pleasure that you can only enjoy in an amusement park is the 24 types of night attractions. You can experience a different atmosphere by looking at the lights as you ride the attractions. Also, for a limited time, the Ferris wheel allows food and drink from a specific store. You can enjoy a hot drink at the 80m climax of the wheel while gazing out at the glittering scene of the park for a great experience! The night entrance and night free pass set is a great bargain.
Illuminations: Weekends and holidays until February 26th (Sunday), 2017, and every day between December 19th (Monday), 2016 and January 5th (Thursday)
Night admission and night free pass: 2,700 JPY for adults, 2,300 JPY for elementary school aged children, 1,600 JPY for children 2 and up (all incl. tax)
*Sold after 4:00 pm
*If you want to just see the illuminations, you can do so with a regular admission pass
4. Expo’70 Commemorative Park
The Expo’70 Commemorative Park in Suita was opened to celebrate the success of the world's fair Expo '70 in 1970 on the grounds where the expo was held. The park is 260ha wide, and has many spots including gardens and museums. One of the most famous sights is the symbol of the park, the Tower of the Sun. It was created by the celebrated artist Taro Okamoto.
During the Christmas season, the Tower of the Sun is changed into a screen for 3D projection mapping for 3D art videos and impressive sound effects. Also, inside and around the park is decorated with 650,000 LED lights and they hold various events in Kids' Land that children can enjoy. Don't forget to check out the ramen expo held at the same time!
Event schedule: Fridays and weekends between December 9th (Friday) and December 25th (Sunday), 2016 *Canceled in cases of inclement weather
Entrance is free except for the Natural and Cultural Gardens (250 JPY for adults, 70 JPY for children under middle school age (both incl. tax))
5. Harvest Hill
Harvest Hill is a farming park in Sakai. It's a popular leisure facility where you can have various experiences surrounded by flowers and greenery like petting animals, harvesting vegetables, and making sausages.
Every year during the Christmas season, they hold various events, and one of the must-sees is the 2,000 fireworks they set off! They light beautiful fireworks in the clear winter night to the sound of Christmas songs. There are other ways to enjoy this area during Christmas as well, such as painting or writing messages on your own candle holder, dinner concerts held to the music of piano and violins, workshops about making Christmas breads and tarts, and more!
Christmas fireworks event: December 24th (Saturday), 2016 *In the case of inclement weather, will be held on December 25th (Sunday)
Candle night: December 23rd (Friday) and 24th (Saturday), 2016 *Canceled in the case of rain
Entrance fee: March to November: Adults above 13: 900 JPY, children 4-13 years old: 500 JPY, children 3 and under free
December to February: Adults above 13: 500 JPY, children 4 -13 years old (400 JPY), children 3 and under free (all incl. tax)
Even the spots that aren't right in the heart of Osaka can be reached within 30 minutes to an hour by train. Please participate in at least one of these Christmas events in Osaka in 2016!
*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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