by Joe, staff writer of japan-guide.com
2014/12/09 - Seasonal Illumination: Ashikaga Flower Park
It's December in Japan, and that means it's time for winter illuminations in cities across the country. While major urban centers' light-ups often get the most attention (like some of the ones Raina visited this week in Tokyo), there are plenty of smaller towns that also put on impressive displays during the winter season as well. This week, I made my way to one of the most popular illuminations just outside of the greater Tokyo area in Tochigi Prefecture's Ashikaga City.
The Ashikaga Flower Park in Ashikaga is well-known for its gorgeous array of hanging wisteria and other flowers in the spring, but it also draws huge crowds in the winter for another attraction. During its annual illumination event, every inch of the park gets decked out in hundreds of thousands of multi-colored LED lights, covering flower bushes, lining walkways, and arranged into huge, creative objects on a truly impressive scale. Some of the more eye-catching objects include two-storey Christmas trees and pyramids, light tunnels, an enormous, ever-changing LED "screen" covering a hill which cycles though creative imagery, and music-syncronized light shows.
The park is easily accessible from Tokyo in 90-120 minutes by train, located right in front of JR Tomita Station (see access details here). This season's illumination lights will be up from December 10, 2014 to February 5, 2015. Admission costs 700 yen, and the park is open from 15:30 to 21:00 for the illumination. Bring warm clothes, though, as it gets rather cold and windy in the evenings.