December 2018: Top Events Around Japan

Lily Crossley-Baxter

There’s no shortage of events this December in Japan! Attend traditional festivals, run a marathon and enjoy the illuminations before you ring in the New Year.

Photo by Marufish used under CC

Ramen Expo 2018

Slurp on your favorite ramen each weekend through December and travel Japan with your taste buds. There will be over 40 stalls set up with a variety of ramen from across the country for you to try out. The festival takes place over the four weekends, including Fridays with a different group of ramen offerings available each time. Entry is free and you can buy tickets to swap for bowls of ramen.

 Ramen Expo 2018

Dates:30th Nov–25th Dec, 2018

Mura Masa Tour (Osaka)

Mura Masa Osaka
Photo by Iflyer

A great chance to see Mura Masa since his Tokyo dates sold out in a flash. The British electronic artist has been nominated for an Ivor Novello, two Grammys and been number one in the spotify charts.

Discover Osaka's hidden nightlife food alleys where locals dine and drink in the unique atmosphere of the Namba district. With a friendly local guide, hop click here for details
 Suggested Activity 

 Mura Masa Tour: Osaka

Dates:4th Dec, 2018
Advance sales: ¥6,500

Zen and Introductory Programming Workshop

Chrysalis Coding in Eiheiji
Photo by Chrysalis

A chance to try coding in the most zen of environments, this workshop teached an introductory course in a stunning temple in Fukui.

 Zen and Introductory Programming Workshop

Dates:2nd Dec, 2018

Naha Marathon

Photo by nakashi used under CC

If you’re in Okinawa and enjoy seeing people run by, the Naha marathon is for you. As one of Japan’s premier long-distance road races it was established in 1985 as a celebration between Naha and Honolulu. It draws crowds of over 25,000 people and the route is lined with taiko drummers, eisa dancers and well-wishers who will keep up the motivation of the runners. so there’s plenty to see.

 Naha Marathon, Okinawa

Dates:Early Dec, 2019

Worldwide Eisa Festival – Okinawa

Photo by Marcel Uyeta used under CC

Eisa is one of Okinawa’s most important cultural expressions and is celebrated in a large competition with competitors from all over the island. There are performances and workshops if you want to try it yourself. There are three categories and the dance is performed in a spirit of prayer, emotion and friendship.

 Worldwide Eisa Festival

Dates:Mid Dec, 2019
Entry:¥1,500 – ¥2,000

Kasuga Wakamiya

Photo by ccdoh1 used under CC

With an origin traced back to the 12th century, this traditional festival takes place in the at Wakamiya shrine within the larger Kasuga Taisha Shrine. The highlight is the Jidai Gyoretsu, a period procession that takes place on the afternoon of the third day with 500 people processing dressed in traditional clothing from the Heian period to the Edo period.

 Kasuga Wakamiya On-Matsuri

Dates:15th Dec–18th Dec, 2018

Okera Mairi: Old Year’s Eve

Photo by eggry used under CC

If your keen to achieve peace and prosperity for 2018 (and don’t we all need some) then attend the traditional Okera Mairi ceremony in the Yasaka Jinja. Roots of Okera are burned and torches are lit using their flames from which people rush to light bamboo rope which they carry home to light a candle on the family altar or on a cooking stove. The event begins at 7pm on 31st with an earlier ceremony taking place to purify sins.

 Okera Mairi: Old Year's Eve at Yasaka-jinja Shrine

Dates:31st Dec–1st Jan, 2019

Winter Illuminations

Saga Light Fantasy

One of the longest-running illuminations each year, the Saga Light Fantasy is a trail of beautiful designs starting at Saga Station. There are over 1.8 million LED bulbs to be switched on between 5pm and midnight.

 Saga Light Fantasy

Dates:30th Oct–14th Jan, 2019

Iwaki Hikari no Sakura

Bringing spring to winter, these illuminations have a theme of cherry blossom and use thousands of pink LEDs to create a cherry-blossom wonderland on the streets of Iwaki.

 Iwaki Hikari no Sakura (Light Cherry Blossoms)

Dates:1st Dec–14th Jan, 2019

Arashiyama Hanatouro Lighting

Explore the beautiful area of Arashiyama as it’s lit for the winter illuminations this year. Temples and shrines will be open during the evenings and this will be an amazing chance to see them at their most beautiful. The path includes the Togetsu-kyo bridge, Tenryu-ji and Horin-ji temples as well as the famous Sagano Bamboo Forest and will be open from 5pm to 8:30pm

 Kyoto Arashiyama Hanatouro - Illuminations

Dates:8th Dec–17th Dec, 2019

Kobe Luminarie

One of the most famous illuminations in Japan and is held in memory of the victims of the Great Hanshin Earthquake in 1995. Head to Motomachi Station to see the bright lights in their 21st year.

 Kobe Luminarie 2019

Mid Dec, 2019

Sendai Pageant of Starlight

Enjoy the 31st illumination of Sendai with lights leading from Aoba Dori to Jouzenji Douri in the center of the city. The lights are on from 5:30pm to 11pm until the final day when they will stay on until midnight.

 Sendai Pageant of Starlight

Dates:14th Dec–31st Dec, 2018

Festival of the Lights Osaka

Osaka has two different illuminations: the Midosuji Illumination and the Hikari Renaissance. The former takes place from November 4th – Dec 31st and the latter from Nov 14th – Dec 25th. The Midosuji is recognized as the street with the most illuminated trees in the world with lights stretching over 4km. One of the highlights of the Hikari renaissance is the Wall Tapestry Lighting Show—a projection onto the facade of the historic Nakanoshima Library.

 Festival of the Lights Osaka

Dates:4th Nov–31st Dec, 2018

Nagasaki at Christmas

The Christmas feelings are strong in Nagasaki, with illuminations and events kicking off nice and early. You can stroll through the city as it is illuminated each evening, explore Glover Garden’s lights and explore the markets at Huis Ten Bosch too.

 Nagasaki Christmas

Dates:Late Nov
Late Dec, 2018
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Filed under: Things to Do
Tags: Christmas, December, Featured, Illuminations, Marathon, New Year, Ramen, Winter
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