Illuminations make holiday cheer easy to find on tropical Okinawa
It might seem like a challenge to get into the holiday spirit on Okinawa, as the island’s subtropical climate makes the winter feel less like a time for Santa Claus and gingerbread and more like a time for hitting the beach in a pair of shorts and a tank top.
However, thanks to the many winter illumination events currently taking place across the prefecture, those yearning to make some magical memories with their family can easily find the inspiration they’re looking for just in time for the holidays.
Illuminations are Japan’s version of the extravagant holiday light displays often seen throughout the United States during the winter months. They can range from elegant and upscale to whimsical and kid-friendly. The tradition first began in the city of Sapporo in 1981 and has now spread across the country, with many larger cities playing host to countless illumination events. These days, it’s not uncommon to see both families and young couples enjoying the lights and holiday atmosphere — making illumination viewing an ideal activity for people of all ages.
While many of these events end after the Christmas and New Year’s holidays, there are some that run through late January and early February. On Okinawa, the Itoman Peaceful Illumination is one of the first illuminations to close, taking place from Dec. 15 to Jan. 3 — so it makes an ideal place for illumination first-timers to kick off the holiday season.
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