We have compiled a great list of events all over Japan, so no matter where you are during your trip, you’ll have plenty to do. For events in Tokyo and the surrounding area, please visit our listings on Tokyo Cheapo.
These are events in Kyoto, Osaka, Hyōgo, Mie, and the surrounding areas.
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. You’ll only have to pay for park entry and you can buy tickets to swap for bowls of ramen.
This traditional festival takes place 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 dressed in traditional clothing from the Heian period to the Edo period.
Okera Mairi: Old Year’s Eve
If you’re keen to achieve peace and prosperity for 2023 (and don’t we all need some) then attend the traditional Okera Mairi ceremony at Yasaka Jinja. Roots of Okera are burned and torches are lit using their flames. From there, watchers can light bamboo rope which can be carried home to light a candle on the family altar or on a cooking stove.
Festival of the Lights Osaka
Osaka has two different illuminations: the Midosuji Illumination and the Hikari Renaissance. The Midosuji is recognized as the street with the most illuminated trees in the world, with lights stretching over 4 km. One of the highlights of the Hikari Renaissance is the Wall Tapestry Lighting Show — a projection onto the facade of the historic Nakanoshima Library.
Osaka Christmas Market
The spirit of European Christmas comes to Japan with the Osaka Christmas Market. Enjoy the hallmarks of classic Christmas cheer throughout December — food, fun, and a fancy fair. Modeled after a traditional German Christmas market, the market has dozens of stalls selling Christmas food and trinkets.
These are events just outside of Tokyo, including Tochigi, Ibaraki, and the surrounding areas.
Ashikaga Flower Park Illuminations
More than 5 million lights spread across the gardens of Ashikaga Flower Park in Ashikaga City. Across the months of the festival, there will be three separate themes, usually incorporating Christmas and New Year into the fun.
|At the door: ¥1,300|
|At the door: ¥700|
These are events in Sapporo, Hakodate, and all the chilly areas on Japan’s northernmost island.
Sapporo White Illumination
This winter light-up takes place at five different locations including Odori Park, Sapporo Eki-mae Dori, and Minami 1-Jo Dori. All locations switch on the lights on November 22, but while Odori Park and the Munich Christmas Market finish on Christmas Day, the Eki-mae Dori venue continues into 2024.
Hakodate Christmas Fantasy
See the unique sight of snow on the beach and a giant Christmas tree which will be lit up in the evenings. There will also be a fireworks display happening every day at 6 p.m.
These are events in Fukushima, Sendai, and the surrounding areas.
Zao Snow Monster Festival
With incredible views from the ropeway and plenty of skiing opportunities, you can get your monster fix pretty easily in Yamagata. Kicking off at the end of December, you’ll also be able to go on special night snowmobile tours to see the snow monsters of Zao.
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.
Illumi Eeru Iwaki
This light-up has changed over the years. It used to have a pink theme inspired by cherry blossoms but now it is favoring the regular colors of white and blue. It will still be big, though, with stamp rallies and photo shoots.
Kyūshū & Okinawa events
These are events in Fukuoka, Kagoshima, Kumamoto, Miyazaki, Nagasaki, Okinawa, and the surrounding islands and areas.
If you’re in Okinawa and enjoy seeing people run by, the Naha Marathon is for you. 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.
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 until midnight.
Fukuoka Christmas Market and Illuminations
Fukuoka Christmas Market is considered one of the biggest Christmas markets in Japan. There are several venues, so technically there is more than one market. The miniature Christmas towns will display lights, trees, and ornaments, and sell piping hot drinks and food.
Huis Ten Bosch Christmas Town
As soon as Halloween ends, the whole faux-Dutch “village” (it’s more like a theme park) of Huis Ten Bosch reinvents itself by donning festive lights and ringing up Santa Claus. Get your tickets online and avoid the rush. No one likes queuing during the holiday season.
Don’t forget their New Year celebrations too.
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