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The Three Best Seasonal Illumination Events With the Tobu Railway

April 1, 2021 Rail No Comments Email Email

Visiting Japan in the cooler months gives Australians more than a handful of benefits. Aside from escaping the Australian heat, by visiting Japan in the cooler seasons (from October to March) you can enjoy everything the country has to offer alongside amazing light displays, vivid autumn leaves and Japan’s famous powder snow. Just a two-hour express train ride north from Tokyo on the Tobu Railway travellers can visit Tochigi Prefecture where you can find three illuminations that are definitely worth adding to your next Japan itinerary. Here’s why.

Explore a little world covered in lights

In central Tochigi Prefecture, visitors will find the small town of Nikko sitting on the edge of the 1,150 square kilometre Nikko National Park. The area is known locally as a prime relaxation destination with its surplus of traditional accommodation options, natural hot springs and lush nature. Nikko also houses some UNESCO World Heritage sites and even an outdoor Samurai village making it a versatile destination for all ages. Travellers can get around the world in a day at Tobu World Square, an outdoor architecture museum that showcases 102 internationally famous buildings and structures located approximately a 45-minute train ride from Nikko Station.

From November to March the interactive park holds an annual illumination event, keeping the gates open after sunset for visitors to enjoy the fairy-tale-like the experience of the miniature world icons lit-up in a colourful display. Feel like you have experienced the nightlife around the world all in one night as you see each of the 1/25th scaled recreations brought to life with the 140,000 realistic figures wandering around amongst the lights.

Take a ride back in time on the Historic SL Taiju

The Steam Locomotive Taiju is a Class C11 coal-powered train that was manufactured in the 1940s and in 2017 Tobu Railway refurbished the train, operating scenic rides for the public. The train runs along a 12.4-kilometre route through Nikko’s countryside between Shimo-Imaichi Station and Kinugawa-Onsen Station. For only a few nights in winter the SL Taiju has added extra trips, giving Nikko overnighters something special to do after dinner. These special rides offer the passengers a different perspective than the daylight tips, with all stations along the route decorated in colourful lights making the journey in the darkness bright. The event is only held a few nights throughout November and December so be sure to check the train’s schedule on their official website before planning your trip!

Getting there

Nikko can be reached in a two-hour ride on one of the Tobu Railway’s express trains from Asakusa Station in Tokyo.

Stay in Nikko

Nikko has an array of accommodation to suit every traveller – including, the oldest resort hotel in Japan which opened in 1873. This historic hotel is located just by Nikko’s iconic Shinkyo Bridge which leads to the UNESCO World Heritage site Toshogu Shrine, making it a convenient and charming place to base yourself while you explore Nikko.

Nikko PASS

The Tobu Railway offers special discount passes only for foreign visitors visiting Nikko from Tokyo. There are two types that both include a round trip from Asakusa in Tokyo to Nikko, as well as unlimited travel on trains and busses in the Nikko area and allow access to the above attractions. Both passes provide the users with special discounts at some tourist facilities, shops and restaurants.

Revel in the flowers and lights of Ashikaga

Hidden in the south border of Tochigi Prefecture sits Ashikaga Flower Park, a 23-acre park that features countless seasonal flowers. Although the park is most well-known for its Wisteria flowers that bloom in May, this park is famous throughout Japan for its annual illumination event which was ranked by the YAKEI Convention and Visitors Bureau as one of the country’s top three light-up in 2017.

Held from mid-October to early February, there are over five million lights decorating the 100,000 square metre gardens after dark. The lights are set up throughout the park, but the main three attractions are the wisteria trellises decorated with lights made to look like a canopy of real flowers, a rose garden featuring hundreds of colour-changing LED roses and in the lily pond with its LED lilies and lights decorating the backdrop all creating a mirrorlike reflection on the pond’s waters.

Get there

Ashikaga Flower Park is best accessed by changing from the Tobu Sano Line at Sano Station to the Roymo Line, Getting off at Ashikaga Flower Park Station.

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