Aside from all the great food and snow, do you know what else Hokkaido likes to have? Illumination Festivals.
The recipe is quite simple. All you need is a brisk winter evening with some snow, thousands of LED’s, a bit of eagerness from the local tourism association, and a bunch of romantics looking for a night away from the bars. Elaborate displays of electricity juxtaposed with a winter evening is a Japanese cultural favorite.
During the winter months, many small towns and tourist spots have some sort of illumination or candle festival. Here’s a quick list:
- Otaru Candle Festival: Probably the most popular. The coast-side town is filled with small candles with a spectacular view along the canal.
- Jozankei Candle Festival: Although this event is held at a shrine, don’t underestimate its impact. Enjoy some local onion “tamanegi” soup and watch the fire-dancing display!
- Sapporo Snow Festival: A little more elaborate than your local winter festival, this festival focuses on snow sculptures. Plus, you can view the progress of the sculptures here.
- Lake Toya Winter Festival: Known for their fireworks display every single night during the summer, Lake Toya goes back at it with the fireworks every night for 10 days! Grab some local food as well.
- Hakodate Winter Festival: They don’t claim the most beautiful evening view for nothing. Hakodate, especially viewed from atop the local hill, is a magnificent display of light and beauty.
If you travelled a significant portion of the planet just to get here, you can’t go wrong with a day off the hill for some cultural diversity. There will most likely be a day of subpar snow, so better make the most out of it, do some local Hokkaido exploring, and make some off-snow memories as well!