Yokohama Smart Illumination 2017: Even More & Better Than Before

I know it seems like all I do these days is frant about looking at stuff lit up at night, but there’s been a sudden rash of illuminations events in & around Tokyo lately, and they’ve all been worth staying up way past bedtime for!

Last time I went to the Yokohama Smart Illuminations, you may remember that I blatted on and on about it, like was the best thing since electric ramen. Well, this year it’s even better.

For these five days, when the sun goes down, Zo-no-hana Park (that’s Elephant Nose Park to you) is transformed into a fairy wonderland of eclectic, electric art

Once again, one of the nearby buildings seems to have acquired a living, grimacing face, which turns out to be…

…YOU! You can stand in line to stick your face through the hole in this spoof on tourist photo ops, and later discover that (SURPRISE!) your face was also being projected weh bigger than life-size on the tower behind you (Artist: Kyota Takahashi)

I was not disappointed to see the return of the illuminated man (Artist: Junichi Kusaka)

And this “Musical Chairs” floating lit-up furniture was pretty entertaining (Artist: Naho Kawabe)

These little golden snitch-like things were actually glowing. They were made from discarded gashapon capsules fitted out with solar lights and suspended in a mobile-like web against the night sky

This thing that sort of looks like a 3D scribble of the Olympic torch was actually called “The Light of Life” and was beating rather creepily like a heart (Artist: Yusuke Wakata)

These charming life-size doodles looked like they were drawn with a glow pen in the thin air (Artist: Kateryna Snizhko)

This was weirdly mesmerizing, despite the fact it was just bubbles being blown out of a cylinder with a color-changing glow around the rim. The wind was blowing the night I went, so they escaped so fast they just sort of drew sparks in the air.

These sky-mirroring kotatsus were quite popular once it started to get a bit chilly, because you could stick your feet under the quilts and they actually had heaters in them like real kotatsus (Artist: Takahito Kimura)

But the video below is of my absolute favorite thing. The glass whatsits that the laser bounces off of are set up in different ways each night, but the bonus excellence is that the colors and patterns are controlled by a sort of rattle with a sensor in it, and you can take a turn shaking it at the laser, and feel like The Force is strong with you.

If you’re in Tokyo right now, there’s still time to see the Yokohama Smart Illuminations, because they’re on through Sunday, November 5, 2017. Things light up once it gets dark at 17:00 and stay on until 20:00. And yay, it’s free! If you’d like to go, a map is on my website, The Tokyo Guide I Wish I’d Had.

Jonelle Patrick occasionally takes a break from ogling stuff lit up at night to write novels set in Tokyo

In the wake of a deadly earthquake, fans erupt in a frenzy of mourning when it’s discovered that their favorite pop star is among the dead. But when Detective Kenji Nakamura is sent to investigate a death at a local shrine, he finds evidence that suggests the impossible: How could the head priest have been murdered by…read more