Come autumn and through winter, one of the highlights of visiting Japan is seeing all the mesmerising illuminations lighting up the country’s parks and city streets. While most flowers are dormant during these cold months – and not to mention, the naked branches – many parks tend to go all out with their light displays, turning their somewhat barren gardens into magical fairytale lands to make up for the lack of flora.
One of the most stunning park illuminations near Tokyo has to be the Ashikaga Flower Park in Togichi prefecture. Known for its colourful wisteria in spring, the park transforms into a dazzling wonderland of illuminations starting in October.
Now in its seventh year, the Flower Garden of Lights: Flower Fantasy 2023 event sees the park decked out in over five million LED bulbs, draped into show-stopping formations on cherry blossom trees, rose bushes and even the park's famous ofuji, or great wisteria tree.
Around the park, you'll also come across smaller displays called Flower Water Basins of Lights, where real flowers are arranged in glowing water basins.
Making a comeback this year is the park's popular Flower Castle. This jaw-dropping installation features a colourful mix of flowers, lights and rainbow LED fireworks bursting behind a glowing castle.
Additionally, there will also be three rotating themed sections, each running for about a month. The first period from October 18 to mid-November features the Lights and Amethyst Sage theme, where the park’s sage bushes are lit up in brilliant colours.
From end-November through end-December, the park will switch to a Christmas Fantasy theme to showcase holiday illuminations as well as visits from Santa.
Lastly between January 1 and February 14, the Lights and Winter Peonies theme takes over, celebrating the park's wintersweet shrubs and winter plum blossoms.
This seasonal illuminations at Ashikaga Flower Park in Tochigi prefecture are running until February 14 2024 (closed December 31), giving you plenty of time to plan a visit. As it's an illuminations event, the lights come on at 3.30pm and the park is open until 8.30pm on weekdays and 9pm on weekends and holidays. The lights stay on for an extra 30 minutes between November 3 and January 8.
Entry costs ¥1,300 for adults and ¥700 for children. Advance tickets can also be purchased at convenience stores nationwide. For more deets, visit the website.
The fastest way to get to Ashikaga Flower Park is by train from Tokyo Station. Take the Tohoku Shinkansen Yamabiko from Tokyo Station to Oyama Station. Then, switch to the JR Ryomo line and alight at Ashikaga Flower Park Station.
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