The Best Tokyo Illuminations 2017

It’s time again for the best free holiday light show ever! Here are this year’s Tokyo Illuminations offerings, some of them even better than before:


This one is from the “Venus” themed show, which is the Friday offering

This year’s “Starlight Garden” extravaganza is super lavish, with different shows for each night of the week. There’s a four-minute blue and white spin around the galaxy, then each day of the week features a visit to a different planet in our solar system (except Uranus  and Neptune, which are skipped in favor of our nearer and more instabae neighbors, the sun and the moon.) Note: this day of the week thing sort of confuses me, because that’s what they say on their website, but I went to see it on the first Wednesday, and it seems like they cycled through all of the planets, so go figure. Anyway, here’s the line-up:

Monday: The Moon • Tuesday: Mars • Wednesday: Mercury • Thursday: Jupiter • Friday: Venus • Saturday: Saturn • Sunday: The Sun

For Mondays, the LED animation of the moon depicts the moment it covers the sun during a solar eclipse
On Tuesdays, lots of red zinging things and ‘candles’ equal Red Planet Mars
Wednesdays bring a feeling of ice (the planet Mercury) being quite close to fire (the sun)
Jupiter is the planet of Thursday, with a “typhoons & aurora” gas planet-ish theme
I don’t seem to have any photos of the Saturn piece (dang!) but the Sunday one was pretty great, with a bunch of rays flashing out from a burning red Sun

Once again, this mesmerizing field of lights is set to a spacey soundtrack and features fog as well as super-choreographed animation

Until December 25

17:00 – 23:00

Admission: Free


Here’s what it looks like most of the time, a mix of “Snow & Blue”
But for ten minutes of each half hour, it switches to “Candle & Amber”

Over at Roppongi Hills, the display of lights on Keyakizaka-dori is always festive (and definitely instabae). The best place to see the promenade (and get a view of Tokyo Tower) is from the bridge over the street by the Louis Vuitton store.

Here’s the schedule for when it changes colors:

00:00 – 00:10 “Candle & Amber”

00:10 – 00:30 “Snow & Blue”

00:30 – 00:40″Candle & Amber”

00:40 – 01:00 “Snow & Blue”

Here’s a little video of it (although the actual transition from blue to amber is much more abrupt)

Until December 25

17:00 – 23:00

Admission: Free


Photo thanks to Cafe Nesto

Until December 24

17:00 – 22:00

Admission: Free


Colored lights and lots of ’em make it worth the admission price to the old Yomiuriland theme park, even if you never go on a single ride.
The ginormous reflecting pool stage offered three different shows (rotating every fifteen minutes at :00, :15, :30 & :45) and the one I saw not only had colored dancing fountains (I’m a sucker for dancing fountains) but also dancers performing in silhouette (ditto for suckerhood).
Tunnels like this pulse with an every-changing light show

Getting to Yomiuriland is always a bit of an undertaking, but trust me, the illuminations are worth it! It takes hours to walk around and inside them all, and the quality does not disappoint. They definitely did not stint on the electrical outlay, and it’s seldom crowded. Even if you don’t go on any of the rides, it’s worth it.

Until February 18

16:00 – 22:00*

Open every day except for these holidays: Jan 1, Jan 16-18, Jan 22-25

*Admission: Check their English web page here for prices and hours, because sometimes they’re open later


This dome puts on an everchanging light show
This dome puts on an everchanging light show
You can see it from up above...
You can see it from up above…
...or sit beneath it for the full psychedelic effect
…or sit beneath it for the full psychedelic effect
These color-changing light spheres are bobbing around in all the fountains this year
These color-changing light spheres are bobbing around in all the fountains this year
And DUH it's an amusement park, so if you dare to risk freezing your patootie off, you can ride the splashy one through the illuminations at night
And DUH it’s an amusement park, so if you dare to risk freezing your patootie off, you can ride the splashy one through the illuminations at night
And don't forget to walk through the Wonka-esque rainbow tunnel of luv
And don’t forget to walk through the Wonka-esque rainbow tunnel of luv

The Tokyo Dome City amusement park puts on a lights and fountains extravaganza every year, and you don’t even have to pay for any rides to enjoy it!

Until February 18

17:00 – 25:00

Admission: Free


Once again, this Shiodome courtyard is transformed into a fantasy landscape of starry blue lights
Every year, the Shiodome courtyard is transformed into a fantasy landscape of starry blue lights that periodically burst into dancing colored lights synced to music
One snap from the ten-minute light & music show
This color-changing tree always makes an appearance
This is the artists’ rendition of what this year’s theme will look like (although I just saw a post from a friend who went to this, and the “candalabra” things aren’t gold, like they seem in the illustration – they’re blue)

This year’s illumination at Shiodome Caretta has a “Beauty and the Beast” theme, and if you can get past the blatant Disneyfication, the candelabra/banquet hall motif will be projected around the usual entertaining landscape of animated LEDs and music. In between shows, you can line up to get your picture taken in front of that central tree.

Until February 14 (closed 1/1-1/2)

17:00 – 23:00

Admission: Free


Photo courtesy of JapanToday

The trees lining the promenade between Shinjuku South-East Exit and Times Square are strung with lights, and Mosaic Street (the walk that goes through MyLord) is decked out in pink “sakura” lights this year.

Until February 22

17:00 – 24:00

Admission: Free



This display doesn’t change from year to year, but if you haven’t been there, the view from the red carpet that leads from the Christmas tree to the gigantic Baccarat chandelier is worth seeing once.

Until January 8

17:00 – 24:00

Admission: Free


Hillsides covered with lights, as far as the eye can see
Giant illuminated flower gardens and a billowing undersea landscape are only a few of the walk-through attracations
They got tunnels too. Ever-changing light-up tunnels
And shows, with lights & music & dancing fountains

This place is a bit of a trek from Tokyo (it takes about an hour by train from Shinjuku Station, then a short bus ride), but if you love whole hillsides carpeted with lights, Sagamiko Illumillions is hard to beat. It’s pretty reasonable, too. Tips & tricks for getting there are here.

Until April 8

16:00 – 21:30

Admission: Adults ¥800, Children ¥500, Dogs ¥500


Photo thanks to @miracle_photos

This year, the cherry trees are lit up with 423,980 pink lights (hey, it’s Japan, so of course they know exactly how many!) all along the Meguro River from Osaki Station to Gotanda Station, in an event they’re calling “Minna no Illumi.”

Until January 8

17:00 – 22:00

Admission: Free

The Last Tea Bowl Thief was chosen as an Editor’s Pick for Best Mystery, Thriller & Suspense on Amazon

For three hundred years, a missing tea bowl passes from one fortune-seeker to the next, changing the lives of all who possess it…read more

“A fascinating mix of history and mystery.” —Booklist

Jonelle Patrick writes novels set in Japan, produces the monthly e-magazine Japanagram, and blogs at Only In Japan and The Tokyo Guide I Wish I’d Had

Published by Jonelle Patrick

Writes all the Japan things.

6 thoughts on “The Best Tokyo Illuminations 2017

  1. Dear Jonelle, lovely post and beautifully put together. Took me a while to peel my eyes from those photos. Couldn’t be more timely as a friend is heading to Tokyo this weekend so have shared this. Thank you! Wish I can be there too.

    Re the planetary sequence at Midtown, I’m guessing it may be linked to the name of the weekday. Sunday is named after the Sun, Monday after the moon and so on. Each day corresponds to a planet. That could explain why Uranus and Neptune were missed out (because none of the days were named after them).

    1. I think you’ve solved the mystery! I’d better put you on my team of readers for my next book… (And I’m so glad your friend will be able to see the illuminations – I’ll be gnashing my teeth in envy, since I need to be with family in San Francisco through the holidays this year.)

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