Illuminating the Holiday Season in Japan

In Japan, Christmas lights, called “illuminations” (イルミネーション) in Japanese, go up as early as mid-November and can remain on display as late as March. Businesses, main streets and big parks go all-out with spectacular LED reveries and exquisitely decorated Christmas trees for passersby to experience. The illuminations play an important role in creating the festive and romantic mood of winter in Japan and they are more astounding with each passing year.

The Kobe Luminarie (神戸ルミナリエ) in Kobe, Japan, is one of the most striking displays every year. Kobe hosted its first illumination festival in December of 1995 in memory of the Great Hanshin Earthquake which struck the region in January of the same year. The Italian-designed illuminations were donated by the government of Italy, and the soft, solemn glow of the hand-painted lights became a symbol of remembrance and hope. The Kobe Luminarie was originally meant to be a one-time event but, with the strong request from local citizens, it has become an annual event now its 19th year.

Want to see more illuminations? Visit the location pages below to view photos and videos from the best Christmas lights in Japan this year:




A Visit to Disneyland’s Inspiration, Neuschwanstein Castle (Schloss Neuschwanstein)

For more scenes from Neuschwanstein Castle and the Disney structures it inspired, be sure to visit the Neuschwanstein Castle (Schloss Neuschwanstein), Sleeping Beauty’s Castle 睡公主城堡 and Château de la Belle au bois dormant location pages.

Ludwig II, King of Bavaria, Germany, completed the privately-funded construction of Neuschwanstein Castle (Schloss Neuschwanstein) in 1892. Although originally built as a retreat for the King and an homage to composer Richard Wagner, the castle became perhaps the most iconic structure of its kind due to events on the other side of the world 60 years later.

As Disney was designing their first ever theme park, Disneyland (@disneyland), in 1955, they decided to place a castle at the park’s center. The inspiration for the new structure was Neuschwantstein Castle with a few borrowed details from Notre Dame de Paris and the Hospices de Beaune in Paris. In 1992, the company introduced a similar structure at Disneyland Paris and in 2005 built a near replica of the California castle at Hong Kong Disneyland. While more than 1.3 million people visit Neuschwanstein Castle annually, over 16 million guests see the original Sleeping Beauty Castle in Anaheim’s Disneyland Park each year.