A week ago today, Friday the 13th, I took a trip with a Japanese friend to visit a locally famous winter illumination park in Mie Prefecture (one prefecture away from Aichi where Nagoya is located), about an hour away by subway, then train, then bus.
I’m not sure if “winter illumination” parks like this exist in the United States or not, but, if they do, I’ve certainly never been to one. I have memories of driving through some lovely holiday light displays with my family when I was younger; however, this place takes Christmas illumination to an entirely different level.
The place is called Nabanano Sato, and I won’t waste much time attempting to describe it, because the photos will surely demonstrate the atmosphere of the park better than my words, although even my photos don’t really do it much justice. Essentially, it’s a beautiful park/garden that loops in a big circle and has been transformed into an actual winter wonderland (with a spaceship, nonetheless) through the use of about six million Christmas lights.
We arrived around 6:30pm, by which point it had been dark for at least an hour, and walked around the park soaking in the unreal light displays. I was so mesmerized by the illumination, I felt about five-years-old again. We took a ride on the eerily spaceship-like carnival ride to see the illumination from an aerial view, and after two hours of walking about (in the freezing cold!), we had a nice (and warm!) dinner in one of the park’s restaurants.
Here are the photos(!):
That evening was one of the most fun that I’ve had since coming to Japan, despite the cold, and in some ways almost made me feel a bit homesick (a feeling that I don’t in fact experience very often) for my home at Christmas time.
Luckily enough, or fortunately enough, rather, due to the love and generosity of my family, I’m going to board a plane tomorrow morning (in less than 8 hours now!) to come back to the States for 10 days for Christmas. I’ll be spending the 21st – 26th in Missouri, and then the 26th – 31st in Florida. My flight back to Japan will leave Florida at 8:15am on New Year’s Eve, and will arrive in Japan at 7:00pm on January 1st. While I’m not all-together psyched about missing New Year’s Day in Japan (arguably the most important holiday here) or celebrating the start of 2014 alone on a plane, I imagine it could still be quite fun, and it’s a very insignificant sacrifice to make to be able to spend Christmas time with my family.
So, the next time you hear from me, I’ll likely be a couple thousand miles closer than right now.
Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays!