Japan certainly is famous for its festivals, whether they are in the Spring (Cherry Blossom season), Summer (dance festivals), Autumn (lantern festivals), or Winter Season (Sapporo Snow Festival). While there are many world-famous festivals on offer, the Nabana No Sato festival in Mie often gets overlooked, which is really a shame since it's amazingly beautiful at night.
Settled in the countryside of Mie Prefecture near Kuwana, and rather easy to reach by bus, train+bus, or car from Nagoya, this illuminative festival boasting a grand-total of over 5.8 million LEDs is held every year from Mid-November to Mid- March (the next year) in the flower gardens near Nagashima Spa-Land.
While certainly beautiful in the daytime, walking into the park at night feels like being transported into a dreamworld filled with beautiful lights, sights, and sounds. There are a variety of restaurants, offering everything from French to Italian, Chinese, and of course Japanese cuisine. There are also public baths (Onsen) and foot-baths to relax in.
The biggest attraction, however, is of course the illuminations themselves.
Long strings of lights cover the multitude of flowers and trees in the park and provide a view that is as beautiful as it is unique.
This year's theme is Nature and it certainly delivers with a representation of Mt. Fuji, a simulated sunrise from the top of the mountain, and various other scenes including a thunderstorm, an aurora, and falling stars across the sky.
One of the biggest attractions are the two tunnels of light, which are very popular with young couples. To describe these tunnels as breathtakingly beautiful would be an understatement, especially if you go there with a special person in your life.
Hailed as one of the best light shows in all of Japan, this event is definitely something that should not be missed. Be aware though that it can get very crowded during the weekends, so if at all possible, I would suggest going there during a weekday to avoid the crowds and enjoy your experience basking in the lights of the park.
Admission to the park is a bit steep at first glance, since you'll dish out 2,000 yen (about 18Euro, 25$US, 23$AU, or 15 British Pound), but upon entry you'll get a coupon book with great discounts for the various restaurants. We went with 6 people, ate at the beer garden, had a truly scrumptious (always wanted to use that word) meal including drinks, and ended up paying about 300 yen per person after discounts. Not bad at all!
For some more information about this festival, and how to get there, click the link below.
So whether you want to go there for the Onsen, the Foot-baths, the flowers, the lights, or the food, this attraction is something that should definitely be near the top of your "must do" events list this season; and with the long running time of this festival, there really is no excuse not to see one or the best illumination festivals in Japan. So what are you waiting for? Grab some friends, your family, and/or your significant other, and hop on the train, the bus, in your car, or on the plane and make your way to Nabana no Sato…. you won't regret it!