Christmas! The season everyone awaits for. For those who are visiting Osaka in winter, excellent choice because winter in Osaka is absolutely great! Winter starts in December with clear blue skies. Not too cold or freezing compared to other places. Visiting places with fascinating lights and illumination is definitely an option for planning a memorable Christmas. Discover the wonders of Christmas in Osaka and make it special for you and your loved ones.
The problem is, where should you go? Don’t worry, because there are various illumination sites in Osaka suited for different audience and purposes. Here are 6 places you could go with friends, families with small children, or as romantic couples, young or elderly couples, etc. Visit as many as you want! This list of sites for Christmas illumination could be a helpful guide for you to start.
CHRISTMAS ILLUMINATION SPOT 1: OSAKA HIRAKATA PARK - “TIME TRAVEL FANTASY”
Hirakata Park in Osaka is a very famous amusement park that any local would know. It is located 3 minutes from Maikata Koen station on the Keihan line. During Christmas season, it is popular for its illumination that has that particular Christmas-dreamy atmosphere. The concept is ‘time travel’ where the fantasy happens surrounding an old clock. This place makes it special compared to other sites because there are 7 gardens with LED lights, lighting up the whole park. Since it is an amusement park, it is suitable to go along with your family and friends, but also great to go as a couple.
FOUR MAIN AREAS WITH BEAUTIFUL ILLUMINATION
Four illumination areas that are exceptionally wonderful are; “Time travel fantasy street”, “Lantern carnival square”, “Flower garden of lights”, and “Time travel tunnel”.
At “Time travel fantasy street”, you will find a Christmas tree with an old clock. There is a 7-minute program show of sounds and lights every 20 minutes starting from 5pm (5:00, 5:20, 5:40…). The “Lantern carnival square” is where you can raise your eyes to the beautiful lanterns that flow in the air. It has a 5-minute program shown every 20 minutes starting from 5:10. (5:30, 5:50…).
At the “Flower garden of lights”, you can enjoy glowing flowers with lights. Why not take a walk through the dreamy gardens? The program shows every 10 minutes, starting from 5:05. Lastly, at the “Time travel tunnel”, you can walk through a mysterious tunnel where the color of the tunnel changes depending on which way you walk.
On top of that, going on “Sky Walker”, the ferris wheel attraction will give you the whole view of park and its illumination at its best. Not to mention, you can get a glimpse of the Osaka night view along with it. Hirakata Park is a very instagrammable place. The four main illumination sites offer illusory photo spots that you cannot miss!
During the days of illumination, there is a ‘night plan’ with a cheaper price. Night plan means entering the park after 4pm. For adults (middle school students and older) it will cost ¥2,900 for entrance and free pass. ¥2,500 for elementary students, and for two-year-olds and under, it will cost ¥1,800. If you are just willing to enter the park (without riding on any attractions), you could just pay the entrance fee. For adults it costs ¥1,000 and for children, it costs ¥600. The usual time of illumination is 5pm - 8pm but on 12/21-12/25, it will be until 9pm.
CHRISTMAS ILLUMINATION SPOT 2: GRAND FRONT OSAKA “GRAND WISH CHRISTMAS 2019”
Grand Front Osaka is located 1 min from Osaka JR station. On the first floor of North Hall, you will find a gorgeous 8-meters Christmas tree, named “Brilliant Tree”. This is a new collection of work made by a company from Belgium - Global Concept, the illumination creator in collaboration with Kimi Hasegawa, a famous spatial designer in Japan. This phenomenal illumination is definitely a must-see and you might not want to miss. Grand Front Osaka is not just a shopping mall, but is also known for gathering new inspiration and encounters. Illuminations found in such an innovative place can perhaps provide an extraordinary experience.
Quick access from the station and no cost. Also from Umekita Square, you will find the annual “Champagne Gold Illuminations” surrounding the buildings and facilities. Length has been extended this year with more lights! Why not experience a luxury Christmas this year with golden lights? The illumination will start from 5pm to 0am on November 7th all the way to Christmas - December 25th, 2019.
CHRISTMAS ILLUMINATION SPOT 3: GERMAN CHRISTMAS MARKET - NEW UMEDA CITY WONDER SQUARE
Another recommended Christmas illumination site in Osaka is the German Christmas Market. It is located in Shin (New )Umeda City Wonder Square which is to the north of Osaka station. It is near the famous Umeda Sky Building. There is a Christmas tree with the height of 27-meters. Along with fantastic illumination, you can enjoy German beer, hot wine, sausages, pretzels, gingerbread cookies, and other varieties of Christmas food. However, the eat-in space is known for being small so you may need to eat and drink while standing. For those who aren’t interested in the food but more into shopping, exploring the German market will be interesting. There are small shops of Christmas merchandise. Christmas decorations, ornaments, dolls and other items from Germany are very classical, which are difficult to find in Japan.
For those who like to feel the warm Christmas vibes with plenty of lights and colors, this place is a must. Also, the great thing about this market, is that you can visit from the afternoon. It’s great for avoiding the crowd or doing some extra Christmas shopping before the actual ‘Christmas’ day! The German Christmas Market will open from November 15th to Christmas - December 25th, 2019. The business hours are 12pm - 9pm on Mondays to Thursdays, 12pm to 10pm on Friday, and 11am to 10pm on Saturdays, Sundays, and national holidays.
CHRISTMAS ILLUMINATION SPOT 4: UNIVERSAL STUDIOS JAPAN - UNIVERSAL CRYSTAL CHRISTMAS
What is Osaka exceptionally famous for? Osaka is famous for having the only ‘Universal Studios’ in Japan! The supremely exciting theme park offers a special Christmas theme this year, which is the “Universal Crystal Christmas”. The shining lights of illumination surrounds you in 360 degrees. It is definitely a once in a lifetime experience.
At the far end, you will get to the brightest and tallest crystal tree of all time. This Christmas tree has always been popular among people in Osaka because of its height which is 30 meters. And also for its Guinness records. First record was awarded for having the most lights on an artificial Christmas tree. At the moment, it is said that there are 591,840 light bulbs on the tree. The second time it was awarded was for having the largest Christmas snowflake ornament, which was at 3.196 meters.
If you want to have a wow-moment with your partner, friends and families, this is a must. Illuminations here will definitely provide you and your partner a memorable date that you will never forget. Perhaps, is it one of the most popular dating spots among local Japanese. USJ is widely known for being an instagenic place. A lot of times, people coming to USJ as friends will dress up similarly and take pictures at different locations. Each area has different scenery because of different film concepts and themes. Why not look into the extraordinary experience during Christmas holidays? The “Universal Crystal Christmas” starts from November 14th, 2019 to January 30th, 2020.
CHRISTMAS ILLUMINATION SPOT 5: OSAKA CITY CENTRAL PUBLIC HALL - CHRISTMAS PROJECTION MAPPING
Instead of walking through Christmas Illuminations, why not stand or sit to just view the amazing projection mapping? This event takes place on the East side front of the Osaka City Central Public Hall, which is located by the beautiful riverside of Nakanoshima area. There are two different parts to this projection mapping. The concept of first part is ‘inherit to the next generation’. The art will be presenting various fascinations that intersects and interacts each other. The second part of will be presenting 5 lighting paintings by a wall tapestry artist along with music. Paintings with slowly irradiate every 1 minute so it is perfect for taking pictures as well.
The concept of Christmas illuminations here in Nakanoshima will certainly create a nostalgic feeling. It may remind you with old picture books that you used to read during Christmas season. The time traveling and relaxing projection mapping will be ideal for elderly couples or for young couples. Make sure to dress warm since it is outside and a little wind-blowing near the river. The projection mapping will take place from December 14th to December 25th, 2019. The first show is just 7 minutes, which will start from 5pm to 9pm, once in every 15 minutes. (On December 14, it is planned to start from 6pm). The second show will start from 9pm all the way to 9:30pm.
CHRISTMAS ILLUMINATION SPOT 6: OSAKA CASTLE - OSAKA CASTLE ILLUMINAGE
Some people say that this Osaka Castle Illuminage during Christmas season is the best. Popularly know to be called the No.1 place to visit when looking for illuminations in Osaka. It is particularly popular among foreign tourists since it is the world’s first Japanese-inspired illumination event. Osaka Castle is decorated with lights and installations based on the inspiration of Taisho Period (1912-1926). This was the period when Osaka remarkably showed their industrial development. Although it may derail from the Christmas concept, it is one of the must-see sites for tourists since it is the only season where the castle is lit up!
It is a mixture of Japanese and western styles of illumination. 3 million lights cover up the whole area and display the 150 years of history behind Osaka Castle. There is also a Samurai show along with the illumination. A fantastic place where people interested in Japanese culture and history could enjoy. This event is also suitable for families with children who’d like to have many excitements. They have performances that cannot take one’s eyes off.
The event is held at Nishinomaru Garden Special venue near the Osaka Castle. Don’t forget that there is an admission fee. For adults (middle school students and older), regular tickets will cost ¥1,200 and advanced tickets will cost ¥1,500. *Advanced tickets meaning tickets to purchase before the event’s starting date. For children (elementary students and younger), regular tickets will cost ¥800 and advanced tickets will cost ¥650. It may be a great idea to purchase earlier since the tickets to purchase on that day (regular tickets) can be sold out due to its popularity.
Event starts from November 22nd, 2019 all the way to March first, 2020. The lights will begin from 5:30pm to 9:30pm. However, the business hours are from 5pm to 10pm, therefore you could get in earlier to save a spot or enjoy the food shops there.
You may be excited now to get out and experience magical illumination sites. In fact, there are many more small-scale events and places to go as well. Try searching if you wish to have more excitement! Even if you are just walking along any shopping street, you may see or bump into pretty Christmas lights. Nights in Osaka during the season will keep you festive and delightful. If you plan to stay longer, please keep in mind that most businesses will close from December 29th to January 3rd. This is because of Shogatsu, New Year’s holidays in Japan where people go back and spend time with their families. Prepare your to-go list and enjoy Osaka to the fullest!