Osaka has enough neon to be seen from space (nearly), but around Christmas and New Year, the city’s winter illuminations steal the show.

Nothing says Christmas in Japan like some impressive winter illuminations. Osaka pushes the boat out for the festive season and has millions of lights to view. Whether you want a full-on date night or just a quick stroll for an evening, there are plenty of great spots.

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1. Osaka Castle Illuminage

The Illuminage festival will dazzle with extravagant light displays in both Osaka and neighboring Kobe. The historical Osaka Castle will put on a grand show, with tickets from ¥1,300, and Kobe goes big with a sprawling light-up just outside of the city. Kobe tickets start from ¥1,800.

2. Universal Studios Japan No Limit! Christmas

A fun-filled Christmas adventure. | Photo by USJ Limited Liability Company

This winter, Universal Studios Japan will host an energetic party with everyone’s favorite characters: Hello Kitty, the Sesame Street gang, Minions, Snoopy, and more all dressed up in Christmas costumes and dancing along to yuletide songs. Shows are held a few times a day (check the official site or app for times on the day you’re visiting). Get your tickets here.

3 & 4. Osaka Festival of Lights

Osaka’s big winter illuminations are split into two broad events under the “Festival of Lights” umbrella: Midōsuji Illumination and Osaka Hikari Renaissance. There are also many more fun things to see during the event period — including a giant rubber duck!

3. Midōsuji Illumination

Winter Festival of the Lights in Osaka
Lights that never end. | Photo by Feng Chiang

Joined with the Hikari Renaissance (below) to form the Festival of Lights, the Midōsuji Illumination is one of the most popular in Japan. It is now officially the street with the most illuminated trees, stretching for 4 km between the intersections of Ooebashi-Kitazune and Hanshin-mae. Making the most of the ginkgo trees, the display runs from 5 p.m. to 11 p.m. until December 31.

4. Osaka Hikari Renaissance

The second and slightly shorter arm of the Festival of Lights is the Hikari Renaissance — an impressive show of projection mapping along the waterside in Nakanoshima Park. It takes place from December 14 to December 25.

5. Grand Wish Christmas

This photo shows the golden lights from 2022. | Photo by Grand Front Osaka via PR Times

Grand Front Osaka will put on a special illumination complete with a 12-meter-tall, merry-go-round-inspired Christmas tree. There will also be around 230,000 golden LED lights in front of JR Osaka Station, and other themed things to do from November 10 to December 25. On December 9, 1,000 people will dress up as Santa for a festive handbell performance.

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6. Namba Hikaritabi

Taking it all in. | Photo by Getty Images

The Namba area of Osaka will be lit up with a whopping 1 million LED lights and a whole host of fantastic activities will be available. Illuminations start on November 10 and most go on until February 2023. In Namba Parks, there will be a waterfall of light and a giant moon will shine down. Namba Carnival Mall will display neon artwork designed by students from Osaka Mode Gakuen.

7. Umeda Sky Building Christmas

christmas tree
Some of the best lights are Christmas-themed. | Photo by Umeda Sky Building

Feel the Christmas cheer at the Umeda Sky Building from December 1 until December 25. Expect a giant Christmas tree, a light show, and Christmas riddles.

While we do our best to ensure it’s correct, information is subject to change. This post was first, published in November 2018 and was last updated in November 2023.

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