Light displays start signaling year-end approach
Although snow is in short supply and the holiday season is still a few weeks away, there are plenty of signs on Okinawa of the holiday spirit starting to shine brightly with spectacular LED-light illumination displays popping up at different parts of the island.
The lights are turned on, as the year-end nears and the evenings grow darker, even though the days do not necessarily get much colder.
Kariyushi Beach Resort in Kise near Nago was the first to turn the holiday lights on at the end of October, followed by Kanucha Resort on Nov. 1, and the rest will follow shortly afterwards. Kariyushi has live music by its Garden Pool every night at 19:00 and 20:00. Admission is free.
Fukushuen Chinese garden in Naha is a newcomer to the illumination scene this year, when it turns it lights on tomorrow (Nov. 18). The display will continue through the end of January every day from 18:00 to 21:00. Admission to the garden to see the display is ¥600 for adults and ¥300 for children elementary school age and under.
Other traditional illumination displays include the Itoman Peaceful Illumination Festival will be turned on Dec. 10. This is a festival dedicated to prayers for peace. More than 1.3 million miniature lights are lit on Uchina Farm that is located in Mabuni, Itoman, just across the street from the Okinawa Peace Memorial Park. The illumination is on through Jan. 10th at the Itoman Tourist Farm, 1018 Mabuni, Itoman City, from 18:00 ~ 22:00 every night. Admission is ¥500 for adults. Junior high school age and younger children are free.
Traditionally, live concerts are slated at the venue for Christmas night and New Years Eve, with both featuring fireworks and a laser show.
The year’s first snow will fall on the opening day of the annual Okinawa Zoo Park Christmas Fantasy, as it springs to life again at Okinawa City’s Kodomo-no Kuni Park. It’s a holiday special event that brings smiles to adults and children alike. It’s the only place on Okinawa where visitors get to play with snow… really real snow… snowballs… a slide and more. Advance tickets to the Christmas Fantasy cost ¥1,800 for adults and high school students and ¥1,000 for children from four through junior high school age, and ¥2,200 and ¥1,200 respectively at door. Both Kadena ITT and MCCS Tours have programs to take people to Christmas Fantasy. The event opens Dec. 23rd and runs through the 28th, from 16:00 ~ 21:30 every day.
Okinawa’s best-known laser show is a part of the Christmas Fantasy, a skillful blend of lasers, fireworks, snow and soap bubbles. The Million Dollar Hill is the perfect place for watching the Christmas Fantasy illuminations.
At Southeast Botanical Gardens the lights go up from Nov. 23rd through Feb. 19th, daily from 17:00 to 22:00. Admission is ¥1,500 for adults, ¥1,000 for high school age kids, ¥500 for junior high and elementary school children and kids under 6 are free.
Expo Park Winter Fantasy 2016 runs through January at Okinawa Expo Park, Motobu. There is live music on Dec. 21st, 22nd and 23rd, and admission is free.
Kanucha Bay Hotel and Villas’ holiday display is named “Kanucha Stardust Fantasia” and is definitely worth the drive up to the north, where its eco-sustainable style of holiday lighting is in place daily from 18:00 to 23:00 through Feb. 14th. The hotel complex has a giant 12-meter Christmas tree, plus an outdoor display of more than 100,000 lights. Kanucha Bay Hotel and Villas is located at Abu, Nago, across the bay from Camp Schwab. Admission is ¥1,000/adult in advance, ¥1,500/person at gate. Children 12 years of age and younger are free. There’s an extra charge of ¥1,000 from Dec. 23rd to 25th.
Renaissance Resort Hotel Okinawa in Yamada, Onna; The Beach Tower Okinawa in Mihama, Chatan; the Mihama American Village, Okinawa Kariyushi Beach Resort & Ocean Spa, Onna, are but a few resorts that have large illumination displays.
Other public places with large illumination displays include the Okinawa Outlet Mall Ashibina in Toyosaki, Tomigusuku, nightly from 17:00 to 20:30 through Feb. 14th. Ashibina Mall also has a snowfall every night at 17:00, 18:00, 19:00 and 20:00; Palette Kumoji in Naha, from 17:00 to 23:00 through end of January; Zakimi Castle in Yomitan, 18:00~21:00 daily through Jan. 22. Admission to all above is free.