After much deliberation (and postponing), I finally made a trip to see the wonderful and much hyped winter illuminations at Nabana no Sato flower garden; I found them to be one of the best illumination shows I’ve seen in my life and I’m glad I chose to go.

The major hurdle for me when considering the candidature of Nabana no sato was, as always, the yens involved. Being a student in Japan sadly becomes a constant drain on your purse, and so a wise, well-thought choice becomes paramount. The question for me was whether it would be worth it. But as you’ll find through the course of this review, it was indeed a wonderful experience.

Key Facts

Ticket fees for Nabana no Sato – ¥2300 (includes two ¥500 coupons which can be utilized anywhere in the park)
Winter illumination dates – Mid-October to May
Illumination starts somewhere around 6 pm

Attractions

  • A wonderful Begonia garden (fees – ¥1000)
  • Lighting displays across the park
  • Two Light Tunnels, one of which was Autumn themed
  • Animated light show
  • Rotating Observation Deck giving a bird’s eye view of the illuminations (fees – ¥500)
  • A number of restaurants

Access

  1. From Nagoya Station, take the Kintetsu-Nagoya line to Nagashima station (¥400).
  2. From Nagashima station, take a bus to Nabana no Sato (¥220). The final destination on the bus will be written as Nabana no Sato (in English too), and the bus stop is right at the exit of the train station.

Tips before going

  1. Nabana no sato pass is available near the entrance to the Kintetsu line at Nagoya station. The pass is for ¥3,170. It includes return journey from Kintetsu to Nagashima, return tickets for the bus to Nabana no Sato, park entrance alongwith coupons. It’s a great way to save on money.
  2. Check temperatures before leaving. It can get pretty chilly in the park (as compared to Nagoya), so dress accordingly.Otherwise you’ll be too cold to completely enjoy the park *cough* like me *cough*.
  3. Try to reach at around 4:00 so you can look around in the park while it is not completely dark. The lighting aside, the park itself is very beautiful, so it will be a good experience. It’s also fun to see the park completely transform as the lights came up.
  4. Carry some food with you if you don’t want to spend extra (as you will get hungry). But the food joints in the park are very good too.

The Experience

I was quite skeptical about how good the park can be. I started with the Begonia garden. The entrance fee was ¥1,000 which I paid through the coupons I got with the ticket. The garden is a world of its own, seeped in a palette of colors. The range of flowers was huge, and across dimensions, with some flowers staring at you from small vases, some looking down at you from hanging pots and others tumbling down exotic shrubs. The garden ended with a small cafe amidst the hanging vines and a pond dotted with floating flowers, a scene as picturesque as a painting. Even with my poor skills with the camera, I couldn’t get it wrong.

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Following the garden, which took longer than I expected, I moved towards the chapel while walking along the lake at the center of the park. Specks of golden had stated lining the bushes all over, and the people moving around in the park had also increased. I could hear bell tolls in the distance and as soon as I reached the chapel, with a final toll, the trees around me suddenly lit up in a blinding flash of white on one side and blue on the other. It was as if the entire park gasped silently as music began to pour in accompanied with light from all directions. I realized the show had started, and hurriedly moved to the other side of the chapel towards the lake. The view was breathless. Even as I tried to print it into my memory, the colorful lights running along beautiful paths chased each other into the distance. I stood, mesmerized and waiting for the people to clear up a bit so I could get a better view.

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At 5:45, as it was dark enough, I moved towards the observation deck and stood in line to buy tickets and then to get into the deck. It took two turns for me to get into the deck, but the wait didn’t feel long (particularly because I was carrying food and the child behind me was convinced that the deck was a UFO). The deck was my favorite part of the trip. I have never seen a more colorful display of lights from this height and try as I might, I couldn’t capture it through my camera. The light animation was visible from the deck too, and I decided to go there next.

A view from the observation deck of the entrance of the park, flowers at the entrance, chapel, lighting in the pond and the city beyond after dark
View from the Observation Deck

I was surprised to find that the way to the animation goes through a light tunnel (this day was getting better and better). But even the tunnel could not prepare me for the splendor of the light show. The theme was ‘The beauty of Mother Nature’ and it was grandly depicted in a sea of lights. There were small snippets of animations played on a large canvas of lights, paying homage to one or the other element of nature. The way back from the animation goes through a different tunnel, themed around ‘autumn’ and lit in alternating yellow, green and red.

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The entire experience was much more beautiful than I had expected. I spent around four hours in the park and only after seeing it could I understand the throng of people who had traveled this far to be able to enjoy it. It just wasn’t another light show. And if you happen to be in Nagoya (or Tokyo) around that time, it is definitely a must experience.

 

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