Kyoto can make even the gaudiest winter illuminations classy -- it's got the fanciest festive feels in the Kansai area. If you are still not filled to the brim with Christmas cheer, then head next door to Osaka's top light-ups, too. As a famously beautiful place, it might be hard to imagine Kyoto looking any better than it already does, but if you sprinkle a few thousand LEDs and wrap some fairy lights around a tree or two you\u2019d be surprised. For more illuminations (that may finish a little earlier than Christmas), take a look at our Kyoto autumn leaves guide. 1. NAKED Yoru Mode at Heian Shrine December 1 to 25 From ; Heian Jing\u016b Shrine, Kyoto This illumination is brought to you by light, projection mapping, and design wizards Naked Inc. It's more of a light and projection mapping art project than a traditional illumination event, but it'll still give you the light-up feels. Explore Heian Jing\u016b Shrine with a hand-held lantern, and interact with the lights on display. are Mon. to Thu. and on Fri., weekends, and holidays, if bought in advance. 2. Bambio Illumination December 8 to January 8 Free Bambio Square Park, Nagaokaky\u014d If you're already at Kyoto Station to see the twinkly lights, then it's easy enough to jump on the T\u014dkaid\u014d-San'y\u014d Line and ride the train for 13 minutes to Nagaokaky\u014d Station. Bambio Illumination is right next to the west exit of the station in Bambio Plaza Park. The highlight of the Nagaokaky\u014d Illumination is that it employs traditional lanterns made with local bamboo (which the locals are quite proud of). 3. Twinkle J\u014dy\u014d December 1 to 25 Free, but a donation of is encouraged J\u014dy\u014d A little out of the way but still in Kyoto Prefecture, J\u014dy\u014d City is fast becoming a top illumination destination. However, this is certainly not your standard light show. Twinkle J\u014dy\u014d is a community project that uses displays donated by local groups as well as companies and organizations. The event has food stalls, entertainment, and a serious number of Inst-worthy spots. Head to the J\u014dy\u014d City Comprehensive Athletic Park "Recreation Zone" (or just follow the people from J\u014dy\u014d Station). The park will be illuminated from 5:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. daily. There will be a shuttle bus available for from J\u014dy\u014d Station. 4. Sagano Romantic Train Light-Up October 14 to December 29 (one way) Saga Torokko Station, Arashiyama In autumn and early winter, the Sagano Romantic Train in Arashiyama gets a little more, well, romantic. This sightseeing train will keep its normal route -- departing from Saga Torokko Station (next door to Saga-Arashiyama) and winding its way along the Hozugawa River -- but the familiar scenery will get a splash of light. From 4:30 p.m. until the last train, you'll be able to spot lit-up tanuki (Japanese raccoon dogs), bright mountainsides, and glowing bridges. The journey costs and tickets can be bought at Saga Torokko Station, which is only 17 minutes on the San-In line from Kyoto Station. However, tickets go fast. 5. Synesthesia Hills Illumination All year From Rurikei Onsen, Kyoto While this particular spot for music and illumination is open year round, it gets an honorable mention because, hey, it's the season for bright lights and here they twinkle in spades. There are 12 different installations, including Crystal Lake, Aurora Experience, and Spiral Light Tunnel. Tickets are for adults on weekdays and for weekends and holidays, but go up to for a few days around Christmas (Decemeber 22\u201325). You can get a discount on the official website. It is a little far from Kyoto Station -- 30 minutes by train to Sonobe Station on the San-In or Hashidate line and then another 30 minutes by bus to Rurikei Onsen. While we do our best to ensure it's correct, information is subject to change. This post was first published in December 2018. Last updated in November 2023, by Alex Ziminski.