Photo: Christmas Carol at Amu Plaza, Kagoshima Chuo Station
It’s that time of year again. The nights are becoming longer as the sun sets earlier and earlier. Many may be discouraged to go out in the cold evenings, but over the last decade or so, there is an exciting and eye pleasing reason throughout Japan to go out in these chilly nights.
At this time of year, streets, parks, and buildings around town are given an artistic and festive feeling through decorative illuminations. In recent years, wintertime has become a time of lights throughout Japan. There are plenty of possible origins of this new culture, from Christmas holiday traditions coming to Japan to business strategy to get people to go out in the winter nights, but anyway you look at it, the winter illuminations bring a fun and exciting atmosphere to Japan.
From mid-November to early December, illuminations start to pop up all around town. While some lights are Christmas related and only last through the end of the year, others will last throughout the winter until February. Let’s take a look into some of the locations worth visiting in Kagoshima.
Amu Plaza (Kagoshima Chuo Station)
Amu Plaza is the large shopping mall that Kagoshima Chuo Station is located within. Anyone traveling to Kagoshima via train, this will be your first view of Kagoshima and it is definitely an impactful and memorable site. While the large Ferris wheel on top of the building is lit up year-round, the rest of the building, specifically the “hiroba” (plaza square) in front of the building comes to life with lights. The key feature is the large kiriko (cut glass) Christmas tree-like figure. There are plenty of events and bazaars to enjoy, as well.
【Date and Time】
mid-November to mid-January, 5:00pm ~ midnight
Tenmonkan and Minato Odori Park
This is actually two locations, but all within walking distance, so they make for a wonderful night time stroll for both locals and travelers to Kagoshima. The Tenmonkan Park (located in southern Tenmonkan) display is known as Millionation (million + illumination) from the roughly 1 million light bulbs used. From there, walk through the Tenmonkan shopping district and Yamakataya Department store to Minato Odori Park in front of City Hall.
【Date and Time】
Tenmonkan Park Millionation
mid-December ~ end of January, 6:00pm ~ 10:00pm
Minato Odori Park
first of December ~ end of January, 6:00pm ~ 10:00pm
Kagoshima Flower Park
Outside of Kagoshima City, I highly recommend a visit to Kagoshima Flower Park located in Ibusuki. A further recommendation would be to visit the beautiful garden in the daytime and then come back in the evening to enjoy the different views of the illuminated flowers.
【Date and Time】
first of December ~ early January, 5:00pm ~ 9:00pm
Winter is a great time to visit Kagoshima. However, while Kagoshima is quite far south, nighttime can become quite chilly, so I advise to bring some warm winter clothes if you are planning on coming. Finally, for those celebrating Christmas later this month, I wish you a very Merry Kagoshimas (Kagoshima + Christmas)!!
Author: Kagoshima Cameron