Filled with marvelous displays and breathtaking performances, this is one festival you won’t want to miss.
Nagasaki Prefecture in southwestern Japan is home to some of the most beautiful sights in the country, like a beach made out of glass and a shrine that can only be visited when the tide is low. And if that’s not enough, Nagasaki City itself is currently holding a gorgeous Lantern Festival, with some 15,000 lanterns bathing various districts in warm light. Held every February in winter, visitors will feel as if they have suddenly stepped into another world.
▼ The event is celebrated alongside the Chinese New Year over a span of two weeks.
Some of Nagasaki’s architecture greatly resemble that in China, in no small part due to trade relations between the two countries during the early days. Colorful lanterns, acrobatic performances and elaborate parades provide the finishing touches, creating a magical illusion that mesmerizes anyone who enters.
Yet the event can be a little overwhelming for first-timers who might not know how to best enjoy the festival. This is where our Japanse-language reporter Mariko Ohanabatake comes in. Born in Nagasaki, Mariko has put together a list of four must-see areas that visitors should not miss during the Lantern Festival.
▼ 1. Nagasaki Chinatown
This is the main area of the festival, where streets are lit up by vibrant lanterns. The Chinatown in Nagasaki might not be as large as those in Kobe or Yokohama, but it is still impressive nonetheless.
Stores in Chinatown tend to close at about 9 p.m., which is a good time to snap gorgeous pictures as there will be less people crowding around displays.
▼ 2. Tojin Mansion
Located a little distance from Chinatown, the chill atmosphere, meandering roads and Chinese-styled buildings found here will leave a mark on your heart. The otherworldly lanterns here really give off a Spirited Away vibe.