Illumination – イルミネーション

Illumination – イルミネーション

Illumination activity has become quite popular in Japan. Cities get lighted by millions of colourful lights for couple of months. It is absolutely beautiful. You should go and see it!

History of illumination activity in Japan

The very first illuminations in Japan

In 1903, Osaka, the national industrial exhibition was held and the very first illumination in Japan was displayed there. The picture on the left depicts the very first illumination in Japan at that time. The ladies in front of the picture still wear Kimono (Japanese traditional wear) but they decorated lights on the buildings already and it looks very beautiful.

Ginza Meizi-ya Christmas ads

One year later, illuminations were decorated in Christmas tree by Hakaru Isono (磯野計) in Ginza,Tokyo. He’d been to the UK to study commercial science and he was influenced by their Christmas culture. So he brought back some stuff and started to imitate the culture from the UK in Tokyo and then one of them was the illumination in tree. This is the very first decorated Christmas tree in Japan therefore illumination in Christmas tree became well-known seasonal tradition in Japan.

Big illumination activities in Japan

SENDAI Pageant of Lights

In 1986, Sendai, Miyagi (宮城県仙台市) people started to display millions of lights in trees on the road.This is called SENDAI Pageant of Lights and this is the first illumination activity in Japan.Then this event has become quite famous not only in Japan, but also in some other countries so some organisations from them come to Sendai to inspect the activity and get advised. Several years later cities across Japan started to decorate lights in trees, on buildings or even landmarks.Thus illumination activities have spread all around Japan.

Kobe Luminarie

Especially, Kobe Luminarie (is name of the event in Kobe) is influenced by the event. It started in 1995, after the earthquake hit Kobe, they organised the activity for reviving the city. And now Kobe Luminarie has become the one of the biggest illumination activities in Japan. These two big illumination activities are held in December therefore illumination activities are taken hold by Japanese people as the one of the most popular seasonal tradition in winter.

Illumination activities in Japan today

As I mentioned, illumination activities has become quite popular in Japan. Especially, today, they are quite popular with young people for dating. So illumination activities in Japan are also recognised as the event for a couple or dating. Basically, in this season you can find lots of stuff for a couple. For instance, loads of magazines make features of Christmas dating and they definitely write about illumination activities for dating. In fact, incredibly number of people go to see it every year. But on the other hand, some people hate it and get hurt by the beautiful lights. For example, my friend is made upset by the colourful wonderland. He said “I have to get a girlfriend before it turns off.”

Anyway they are absolutely beautiful so you can enjoy with your family, friends or even yourselves. I strongly recommend to see it at least once!


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