Illuminations on Okinawa: Light up for Christmas in paradise

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

Illuminations on Okinawa: Light up for Christmas in paradise

by Shoji Kudaka
Stripes Okinawa

Although a white Christmas is unlikely, every year a season of lights surely comes to Okinawa. Starting late November, illuminations begin at many locations to set the mood for a holiday season.

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

Photos courtesy of Christmas Fantasy Planning Committee

Illuminations at Okinawa Zoo & Museum

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 (water-fall-simulating illumination)”, “Okinawa Lantern (Shisa dog-shaped illuminations).” Plus, there will be “The Park of Snow” where you can enjoy snow tube riding, building a snowman and more.

This is a three-part event, each of which is dedicated to Christmas, the end of the year, and the new year.

From Dec. 21 to 30, under the title “Christmas Fantasy,” Santa Claus will also visit the zoo.

A herd of zombies are also expected to join the party, bringing with them more chills in the sub-tropical winter.

On Dec. 31, “Nenmatsu (year-end) Countdown” will take place to celebrate the New Year with fireworks and live music.

From Jan. 2 through 6, the illuminations continue under the title “Snow and light winter story” where mochi pounding will be held, and Japanese lion dancing will be performed.

Photo courtesy of Christmas Fantasy Planning Committee

Illuminations at Okinawa Zoo & Museum near Kadena Air Base 

Date: Dec. 21 – 30 (Christmas Fantasy); Dec. 31 (End of the year Countdown); Jan. 2 – 5 (Snow and light winter story)
*The venue will be closed on Dec. 23, 26, and Jan. 1
Time: 4:30 – 9:30 p.m. (8 p.m. – 1 a.m. for End of the year Countdown) 
GPS Coordinates: N 26.327100, E 127.804266
Admission (walk-up): 2,200 yen (approx. $20.30, high schoolers and above); 1,200 yen (between 4 years of age and middle schoolers); free admission for 3 years and below.
* Tickets are scheduled to be available at MCCS Tours+      (Ticket price is to be announced).
* “The Park of Snow” is subject to additional admission  fees: 500 yen for adult, 1,000 yen for a pair of a child and an adult.


Ryukyu Lantern Festival

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, along with entertainment such as Hula dancing and live music. Festival foods like steamed meat buns, skewered chicken and more will also be available for purchase.

Photo courtesy of Murasaki Mura

Ryukyu Lantern Festival at Murasaki Mura

Date: Dec. 1 – Mar. 31 
Time: 5:30 – 10 p.m. (Illuminations will be lit up starting 6 p.m.) 
GPS Coordinates: N 26.407128, E 127.719856
Admission: 1,200 yen for adult; 500 yen for high school and middle school student; 400 yen for elementary school student; free admission for small child.

Hikarino Sanpomich

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 late November, Hikarino Sanpo Michi (Promenade of Light) will return to the botanical garden.

A total of 1.8 million bulbs, which is three times the last year, will add special splendor and colors to the lush green of the garden. 
Illuminations of various themes such as “tunnel of lights”, “treehouse” and “carpet of light” will create fantastical scenes.

Certified as “A NIGHT VIEW HERITAGE OF JAPAN”, the illuminations of the gardens are now recognized as a feature of winter.

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.

Photo courtesy of Southeast Botanical Gardens

Hikarino Sanpomich at Southeast Botanical Garden 

Date: Until Apr. 5 
Time: 5 – 10 p.m. (last admission at 9:30 p.m.) 
GPS Coordinates: N 26.375447, E 127.806597
Admission: 1,800 yen plus tax for adult; 1,100 yen plus tax for high schoolers and seniors (60 years old and above); 600 yen plus tax for middle and elementary school students; free admission for below 6 years of age


Other Illuminations on Okinawa 

Mihama American Village 2019 Christmas Illumination: Until Mar. 17, 6 p.m. – midnight; Mihama American village near Camp Foster and Kadena Air Base; free admission.
Stardust Fantasia: Until Feb. 14; 5:30 – 11 p.m. (last admission at 8:30 p.m.); Kanucha Resort Okinawa (N 26.548253, E 128.078754) near Camp Schwab;1,500 yen for admission fee (inclusive of tax, 2,500 yen between Dec. 21 and 25, free admission for elementary school student and below); Due to a special event, admission fee will cost 3,500 yen on Dec. 31.
Winter Elegance 2019-2020: 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. 29; sunset – midnight; Okinawa Beach Resort Ocean Spa Kariyushi (N 26.526267, E 127.930034); free admission (open only to hotel guests from Dec. 21 through 25, and 31); parking fee costs 500 yen.
Las Luces Feliz: Until Feb. 29; Hotel Nikko Alivila (N 26.415076, E 127.715534) near Torii Station; sunset – midnight; free admission (parking fee costs 200 yen per hour)

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