by Scott, staff writer of japan-guide.com
This journal is a log of my travels within Japan. Here you'll find my personal opinions on the places I've been and the things I've seen. Also expect to see the occasional review and editorial. Thanks for reading.
2012/11/27 - Nabana no Sato Winter Illumination 2012
Since I was spending a few nights in Nagoya this week, we decided that it was a good time to check out the winter illumination at Nabana no Sato Flower Park in nearby Mie Prefecture. Part of the Nagashima Resort, Nabana no Sato Flower Park hosts one of the largest and longest running annual winter illumination events in the country. Over 7 million LED lights are lit up every evening starting in early November and running all the way through March.
One of the most recognizable attractions of the illumination is a beautiful 120m river of light set up over the park's large central pond. The LED trails wound from a chapel to a bridge across the pond and are constantly changing colors. LED lights were also set up over virtually every flower bed in the park and were arranged to different themes. Of course, some of the areas had a Christmas vibe going on, but most of the displays were flower themed considering it's held at a flower park.
On one side of the pond was Island Fuji, an observation deck/carnival attraction that lifts visitors 45 meters into the air for a bird's eye view over the park. Riders were situated around the perimeter of the ride, which lifted up and then rotated 360 degrees to give them a full view of the park and the surrounding area, including Nagashima Spaland amusement park off in the distance. Island Fuji costs 500 yen to ride in addition to your entry ticket.
Another popular attraction of the winter illumination were the light tunnels. The first one that visitors encountered was the larger of the two and measured 200 meters long with over 1.2 million lights. A second, shorter tunnel, known as the Kawazu Sakura Tunnel, was about 100 meters long and featured 700,000 pink LED lights. This tunnel was extremely popular with couples, and was meant to resemble the 300 Kawazu cherry trees, a special early blooming variety of cherry tree, that bloom in the park from late February to mid March.
Toward the rear of the park is the giant Hanahiroba flower field, which measures in at 8000 tsubo (or roughly 26,400 square meters) and is the largest of its kind in Japan. Usually populated by a landscape of hydrangeas, irises, cosmos or tulips, during the illumination season the fields are covered with millions of tiny lights. An animated show set to music is performed on the field by changing the colors of the lights or by turning them on and off. This year the theme of the show was Mother Nature, and featured animations of the northern lights, butterflies, dolphins and whales, and Mount Fuji
During the 2012 Winter Illumination (November 3, 2012 to March 31, 2013), Nabana no Sato will be lit up from a little after sunset until 21:00 (or until 22:00 on weekends, holidays, and every day in March). Entrance to the illumination and costs 2000 yen; however, there are several combination tickets that include both transportation and entry to the park at discounted prices.