So while we should all do our best to continue saving energy this winter, and maybe not leave the Christmas lights on all the time, at least it's a way to feel festive and like it's actually the Christmas season (if you celebrate Christmas, that is). This can be difficult as an expat, I know, any holiday really, and maybe even more difficult if you have loved ones in another part of the world. So if the colorful, twinkly lights help put you in the Christmas spirit, here's a guide to finding holiday light displays in Japan.
You can look up illumination spots on several websites and find them in other ways as well (train stations often have them nearby), but a few options:
Japan Travel and Tourism Association
I've provided a walk-through of the Japan Travel & Tourism Association site below, but you may want to browse some of the others in case there are different (or more) options in your location.
How to find holiday light displays in Japan, tutorial:
1. Go to this page. You have a few options, such as checking out the recommendations in the large yellow box, choosing an area from the map below it, choosing from a specific time frame (November, December, January in this case) or choosing an area from the drop-down list on the top of the sidebar on the left. I'm going to choose Nagano (長野) from the drop-down list.
2. Next I'll see a list of illumination spots or events in Nagano. I can browse through the list and choose one that looks appealing or perhaps in or near the city I would want to go to. Alternatively, you could also choose a different region and/or prefecture from the horizontal list at the top. Each listing shows the name of the place or event, the dates, and where it's held along with a short description. I'm going to click on the first option.
3. On this page I can once again find the name of the event/place, a description, and detailed info about where, when and how to get there, plus a URL, if one exists.
And that's it. These are typically some of the bigger places and events, so it's very possible there may be smaller displays or other places to go in your area.
Yahoo also offers an Illumination app for iPhone and Android, called イルミネーション2011.
Where is your favorite light display in Japan located? Any suggestions?