Enjoy Okinawa's bright Illuminations over the holidays

Photo courtesy of Christmas Fantasy Planning Committee
Photo courtesy of Christmas Fantasy Planning Committee

Enjoy Okinawa's bright Illuminations over the holidays

by Shoji Kudaka
Stripes Okinawa

Although a white Christmas is unlikely, every year a season of lights surely comes to Okinawa.

It may still be warm on the island, but the colorful lights announce the arrival of the “the sub-tropical paradise of Japan.”

Illuminations at Okinawa Zoo & Museum 

Photo courtesy of Christmas Fantasy Planning Committee

From Christmas through New Year, the Okinawa Zoo & Museum gives off an exceptional radiance with 1.4 million bulbs. Not only that, the location becomes a stage for many festivities to pump up the excitement.

With “Super Aurora Attraction/Super beam light show,” a laser light show as a main feature, illuminations of various themes will be displayed to include “Illumination of palm trees”, “Tunnel of light”, “Niagara (waterfall-simulating illumination)”, “Okinawa Lantern to include a Shisa dog-shaped illumination).” Plus, there will be “The Park of Snow” where you can enjoy snow tube riding, building a snowman and more.
This event will start on Dec. 18 and conclude Jan. 10. Please note that several days during that period are designated as recess where there will be no illuminations. When the illumination takes place, the park will stay open until 9:30 p.m. except Dec. 31 where the hours will be extended until 1 a.m. 

Illuminations at Okinawa Zoo & Museum near Kadena Air Base 

Date: Dec. 18 – Jan. 10
*There will be no illumination event on Dec. 20 – 23, Dec. 27, Jan. 1, Jan. 5 – 7.  
Time: 4:30 – 9:30 p.m. (8 p.m. – 1 a.m. for Dec. 31)
GPS Coordinates: N 26.327100, E 127.804266
Admission (walk-up): 2,200 yen (approx. $19.32, high schoolers and above); 1,200 yen (between 4 years of age and middle schoolers); free admission for 3 years and below.
* Advance tickets are available at MCCS Tours+ and KADENA ITT. They are priced at 1,800 yen for high schoolers and above, 1,000 yen for between 4 years of age and middle schoolers. 
Tickets are availabel at the website.

Ryukyu Lantern Festival

Photo courtesy of Murasaki Mura

In Okinawa, some illuminations have a historical touch to them. Murasaki Mura Ryukyu Kingdom Theme Park will once again be host to the Ryukyu Lantern Festival starting Dec. 1. Enjoy as lanterns of various colors, sizes, and styles light up the park’s Ryukyu-style buildings. Under the lights, buildings and streets in a traditional style will set a mood much different from other illuminations. Memorable scenes such as a stone-paved road lit with a line of Chinese red lanterns, and a huge statuesque lantern in the shape of a king welcomes visitors inside. Plus, don’t miss the projection mapping performance. Festival foods like steamed meat buns, skewered chicken and more will also be available for purchase.

Ryukyu Lantern Festival at Murasaki Mura

Date: Dec. 3 – Mar. 27  
Time: 5:30 – 10 p.m. (last admission at 9:30 p.m.) 
GPS Coordinates: N 26.407128, E 127.719856
Admission: 1,200 yen for adult; 700 yen for high school and middle school student; 600 yen for elementary school student; free admission for small child.

Nangoku Illuminaiton Christmas Special Night

Photo courtesy of Southeast Botanical Gardens

Tounan Shokubutsu Rakuen, or Southeast Botanical Gardens, is home to 1,300 different plants. People go there for unique plants such as baobab trees, dragon’s blood trees, and Alexandra palms. However, when winter rolls around, shining lights add more reasons to visit the place.

Starting Dec.23, Nangoku Illuminaiton Christmas Special Night will add special splendor and colors to the lush green of the garden.

Illuminations of various colors will cre ate fantastical scenes. Certified as “A NIGHT VIEW HERITAGE OF JAPAN”, the illuminations of the gardens are now recognized as a feature of winter. Fireworks and live entertainment are also scheduled to take place.

Those looking for a romantic night can eat dinner as they enjoy the view of the illuminations. Comfort food such as chow mein, chicken wing, and ramen will also be available on site.

Nangoku Illumination Christmas Special Night at Southeast Botanical Garden 

Date: Dec. 23 - 26 
Time: 5 – 10 p.m. (last admission at 9:30 p.m.) 
GPS Coordinates: N 26.375447, E 127.806597
Admission: 2,420 yen for adult; 1,320 yen for high schoolers; 680 yen for middle and elementary school students; free admission for below 6 years of age

Other Illuminations On Okinawa 

Mihama American Village 2021 Christmas Illumination: 
Until Feb. 25; early evening – midnight; Mihama American village near Camp Foster and Kadena Air Base; free admission

Winter Elegance 2021-2022: Until Feb. 14; 5 – 8:30 p.m.; Okinawa Outlet Mall Ashibinaa (N 26.159139, E 127.657608) near Naha Air Port; free admission

Kariyushi Dream Fantasy: Until Feb. 28; early evening – midnight; Okinawa Beach Resort Ocean Spa Kariyushi (N 26.526267, E 127.930034); free admission; parking fee costs 500 yen

Las Luces Feliz: Until Jan.31.; Hotel Nikko Alivila (N 26.415076, E 127.715534) near Torii Station; sunset – midnight; free admission (parking fee costs 200 yen per hour)

Photo courtesy of Christmas Fantasy Planning Committee


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