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Kyoto Illumination 2022-2023 Guide: Best Winter Illuminations in Kyoto

If you’re spending the Christmas holidays in Kyoto, you don’t really want to miss any of the Kyoto Illumination events.


This year, several Kyoto Illumination events are fully back after two years of uncertainties brought on by the pandemic. And it’s back with a bang! Fill your winter vacation in Kyoto with some of the most wonderful light displays in the world. Here are the winter illuminations in Kyoto:


1. Kyoto Station Illumination

Kyoto Station Illumination | Image Courtesy of Eiichi Kimura / Flickr

If you’re in Kyoto City, the Kyoto Station Illumination could be your most accessible event and therefore we highly recommend it. It’s one of the best Winter Illumination in Kyoto, showcasing a bunch of light shows around the station, including the grand staircase, Star Bridge, Luna Garden, and the giant 22-meter-tall Christmas tree. The grand staircase is the main display, lit up by over 128,200 light bulbs and accompanied by festive music.


Location: Kyoto Station, Kyoto City

Start Date: November 1, 2022

End Date: March 31, 2023

Time: 5:00 p.m. - 10:00 p.m.

Admission Fee: FREE


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2. Dandelion Project

Dandelion Project at Heian Jingu Shrine | Image Courtesy of Naked Inc

The Dandelion Project is the brainchild of artist Ryotaro Muramatsu and Naked Inc., an entertainment art tech company. This Kyoto illumination event focuses on projection mapping art rather than the traditional lights show. It’s not just a single-location event but appears in multiple different locations at the same time. Some locations open to the public include the Kifune Area (November 5-27), Hikone Castle (November 3-December 4), Kitano Tenmangu Shrine (November 12-27), Heian Jingu Shrine (November 18-December 25), and Nijo Castle (October 28-December 4). For more information, visit the Dandelion Project here.


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3. Kyoto Arashiyama Hanatouro

Mt. Arashiyama shines at night

Arashiyama Hanatouro is a festival of lights featuring outdoor lanterns and an exquisite display of flower arrangements. The Arashiyama Bamboo Grove lights up at night, making it a more magical place. The Togetsukyo Bridge is another Kyoto Illumination attraction that shines from end to end at night, sitting pretty right in front of its stunning backdrop, Mt. Arashiyama.


Location: Arashiyama & Saga areas

Start Date: TBA

End Date: TBA

Time: TBA

Admission Fee: 500 yen


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4. Synesthesia Hills Illumination

Spiral Light Tunnel display at Synesthesia Hills Kyoto Illumination | Image Courtesy of Synesthesia Hills

Synesthesia Hills is open all year round, but it’s also worth mentioning since we’re talking lights show and it’s a disservice if we don’t include the event here. Right from the gate, you will be in awe of the music and light installations. There are 12 different light displays here, including the Spiral Light Tunnel, Stardust Forest, Lighting Garden, and Aurora Experience.


Location: Synesthesia Hills, Nantan City

Start Date: Opens all year

Time: 5:30 p.m. - 10:00 p.m.

Admission Fee: From 500 yen for kids & 1,000 yen for adults


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5. Twinkle Joyo

Twinkle Joyo's Winter Illumination event | Image Courtesy of Kyoto Prefecture Tourism Federation

Twinkle Joyo's Winter Illumination event | Image Courtesy of Kyoto Prefecture Tourism Federation

Twinkle Joy happens in Joyo City, a 26-minute train ride away from Kyoto City. We’ve included Twinkle Joyo since it’s quickly becoming a top tourist attraction in the Kyoto Prefecture for its marvelous lights show that goes beyond what we often see in the city. In the previous winter illumination, over 560,000 pieces of light were showcased, but this year, we have yet to know how grand the event is. For starters, Twinkle Joyo is the local community’s effort so a lot of the displays you will see are donated by Joyo’s community-organized groups and local companies. The events ground also has food stalls and a little bit of entertainment to complete the experience. Twinkle Joyo happens at Joyo City Comprehensive Athletic Park “Recreation Zone” from December 1-25 from 5:30-9:30 pm daily.


Location: Joyo City Comprehensive Athletic Park, Joyo City

Start Date: December 1, 2022

End Date: December 25, 2022

Time: 5-10 pm

Admission Fee: FREE


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6. Bambio Square Illumination

The Bambio Square Illumination is also worth checking out where you can see a lot of Christmas trees and an illuminated tunnel. There will also be live performances on selected days. The Bambio Square Illumination takes place at Bambio Square, Nagaoka Park right beside the west exit of Nagaokakyo Station, which is just a 15-minute train ride from Kyoto Station on the Tokaido-Sanyo Line to Nagaoka-kyo Station.


Location: Bamboo Square, Nagaoka Park, Nagaoka City

Start Date: December 9, 2022

End Date: January 9, 2023

Time: TBA

Admission Fee: FREE


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7. Kiyomizu-dera Kyoto Light Up

A symbolic blue light shines from Kiyomizu-dera | Image Courtesy of Kiyomizudera.or.jp

The Kiyomizu-dera Kyoto Light Up event is more of a religious event that happens thrice a year—spring, summer, and autumn. It’s a symbolic event where a beam of blue light from the temple shines upon the old city of Kyoto. The light symbolizes Kannon’s compassion. It’s not necessarily a Winter Illumination event, but it’s worth checking out as well.


Location: Kiyomizu-dera Temple, Kyoto City

Start Date: November 18, 2022

End Date: November 30, 2022

Time: 5:30 p.m. - 9:30 p.m.

Admission Fee: 400 yen


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