Japanese winter festivals - part II
Winter festival lanterns

Japanese winter festivals - part II

By PantheraNegra | Travel Japan | 23 Feb 2020

Have you seen my first blog post on Japanese winter festivals? If you haven't got round to it yet, do have a look here - Japan winter festivals - you'll see some photos of incredible ice and snow festivals in Hokkaido! 

Now I'm going to show you three more amazing winter festivals we went to where winter is celebrated in different ways. Wherever you go though, it's very cold! Brrrrrrr! 


So remember to take your thermals with you if you ever visit these places!

Otaru snow light path festival

First up...the Otaru snow light path festival which is a short train journey from Sapporo in Hokkaido Prefecture. This normally takes place for around a week at the beginning of February. There are two main sites, the Otaru canal and the old Otaru railway line called Temiya. The canal has a lit path and little lights also float on the water which gives it a rather magical feel. The old railway line is around 300m long and has all kinds of lights, lanterns and snow animals and shapes along the way. It's incredibly beautiful in the early evening.


old train track

otaru lanterns

There are ice, snow and wax lanterns which are lit up all along the snowy paths, hence the name 'snow light path'. Imagine a whole path of these...

The attractive lanterns are different shapes and the local people make them with flowers, leaves and other colourful materials which makes each one unique.

otaru lanterns

pretty lantern

lantern house

cute couple lantern

So that was Otaru, next we move south to Aomori Prefecture and a town called Hirosaki.

Hirosaki Castle Yuki-Doro Festival (snow lantern festival)

We arrived here on a particularly snowy day and the scenery was stunning, especially with the contrasting pure white snow and colourful lanterns and bridges.

hirosaki red bridge and white snow

The festival only runs for a few days at the beginning of February so if you intend to visit check online and plan your trip accordingly!

It is centred around Hirosaki castle and park and there are large and small snow lanterns and snow statues which are lit up from the early evening. 

hirosaki castle

hirosaki castle night lantern

hirosaki lantern display

hirosaki woman lantern

There are also lots of small kamakuras which are lit along a path creating an enchanting scene in the darkness of the early evening.

Hirosaki light path

hirosaki kamakura

Hirosaki was definitely one of our favourite winter places to visit and if you time it right on one of the nights they have a fireworks display.

Paper Balloon Festival of Kamihinokinai

The final festival was quite possibly the coldest place we went to! This is a one day event which happens around the lunar New Year on February 10th in a small village in the Kamihinokinai area which is in Akita Prefecture, in the north west of the country.

Huge paper balloons, the largest of which were several times the height of the tallest people there (up to 12 metres I was told), are heated like hot air balloons and lift high into the winter sky. These balloons are adorned with pictures and writing where people have put their wishes for a good harvest or health, household prosperity or exam success, amongst other things. If you get there early enough you can even create your own small paper balloon and send it high into the sky.

mouse paper balloon

flying paper balloon

Lucky number 6?

dice balloon

lit balloon

And prize for the most unexpected paper balloon of the night goes to...

fish balloon

It was a fun afternoon and early evening. There were places you could warm up and lots of fabulous local food for you to try.

So that's all for now, until next time, thank you for reading. 

Be lucky :)

good luck


Living learning helping improving. Crypto, travel, environment, social justice.

Travel Japan
Travel Japan

Japan is a wonderful and charming country and a fantastic place to spend time exploring and travelling. This blog will give you some insight into it including some of the amazing places to visit and sights to see.

Send a $0.01 microtip in crypto to the author, and earn yourself as you read!

20% to author / 80% to me.
We pay the tips from our rewards pool.