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Tokyo German Village - Winter Illumination - Bumble Bee Mum

I have been to several illumination events in central Tokyo, but after visiting the likes of Kobe Luminarie (which was one of the first illuminaton event I visited in Japan – clearly I set the bar too high with that as my first), the ones in central Tokyo have been somewhat underwhelming.

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Finally in our Japan trip last December, when we decided to rent a car for the entire trip, I made sure to include the illumination at Tokyo German Village in our itinerary.

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Logically, illumination events should be visited when it’s dark.  The darker the better.  But when it comes to events in Japan, I suggest you arrive earlier.  We arrived at Tokyo German Village at about 4pm and the sun was just setting.  But already, a crowd had gathered at the vantage point waiting for the lights to come on.  So do come early to beat the crowd, especially if you are driving. Once the parking spaces near the event are filled, you may end up being redirected to a parking lot much further down the road.  And don’t even get me started on traffic jams like what we experience when visiting the illumination at Nabana No Sato.

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Now, here’s another tip for you when visiting illumination events.  Try to be there BEFORE the lights come on.  Because at the very moment they switch on the lights, there will be “Ooooos” and “Ahhhhs” echoing through the crowd – which I always find very amusing.  And we’ll join in and “Oooo” and “Ahhhh” along.  It adds to the fun!

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Unfortunately Tokyo German Village doesn’t publicise an exact timing at which they will turn on the lights, which makes it a bit hard to plan.  On their website, it only says that the lights will come on when the sun sets.

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After soaking in an overview of the illumination from the vantage point, we headed down the hill and into the field of lights.

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Up close, we noticed light sculptures of objects like boats and animals like swans – so I’m guessing the blue lights were supposed to be like a river.

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We found a little hut by the lakeside and the boys ran inside to play.

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After playing, the boys decided they were starving and we saw a few food kiosks nearby and grabbed some jumbo sausages for them.  I have to say the food selection here was rather disappointing.  I usually look forward to the food stalls during events in Japan.  The food kioks here paled in comparison.

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After they filled their tummies with jumbo sausages and hot chocolate, they were energetic once again and ready to continue exploring the rest of the event ground!

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We continued to proceed through the rainbow tunnel – which was my favourite part of the illumination at Tokyo German Village.

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Walking through the rainbow tunnel felt like being in a totally different world!

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After exiting the tunnel, we continued on, passing by fields of neatly arranged lights.

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We found some interactive elements for the boys to play with.  Like a bell for them to ring, and a rocket where they could push a button and smoke would come out from its bottom.

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We finally reached the cluster of German-inspired buildings.  (Remember this is Tokyo GERMAN Village?)

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Lights have been strung all over the cottages!

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We found some bicycles where, when we paddled them, it would activate the bubble machine! MY was too short to paddle, so MF did the paddling while MY went around playing with the bubbles.  Kids just LOVE bubbles!

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When the boys had enough fun, we continued walking through the field of lights towards where the lights formed the bear and duck were.

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How funny the bear looked from a different angle! If I didn’t go up to the vantage point beforehand, I wouldn’t even have realised this was supposed to be a bear.

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We found more of the little huts, and needless to say, the boys ran inside to play.

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Right next to the huts were some dinosaur light sculptures.  I thought it was hilarious for the kids to look out of the window to see a T-Rex staring back at them! The small witty things that the Japanese do.

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We let the boys play all they wanted as we were reaching the end of the route soon.  As we left, we passed by some more animal light sculptures.

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On the whole,  I really enjoyed the illumination at Tokyo German Village.  It may not be the largest illumination event in Japan in terms of light bulb count. But the light bulbs were concentrated over a relatively smaller area – making it look a lot more impressive than some other illumination events I have been that boasted a higher lightbulb count.

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It was a great event for kids because of the interactive elements.  The huts, the bicycle, the rocket, the bell.  These little touches made the visit much more enjoyable for children.

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Getting to Tokyo German Village

The best way to visit Tokyo German Village is with a rental car.  However, it may seem a bit pricey to rent a car to drive out in the evening just to visit the illumination.  So what I recommend is to rent a car for a day to visit Mother Farm in the morning, followed by the illumination at Tokyo German Village in the evening.

If you prefer to take the public transport, the nearest station is Sodegaura Station.  To find the fastest train route from where you’re at, use Hyperdia and key in ‘SODEGAURA’ as your destination.  As an example, the ride from Tokyo station takes 79 minutes with 1 transfer, and cost 1140 yen per person per way.

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During the illumination period, shuttle buses will be provided between Sodegaura Station and Tokyo German Village.  There were limited buses a day, if you miss them, you will have to use a taxi which will be very expensive.

Below are the timetables from Tokyo German Village website at time of publishing.  I have inserted English translation for easy reference.  Please check their website for the corresponding timetable for shuttle timings before you visit in case they make changes.

Weekday Shuttle Service Timetable:

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Weekend Shuttle Service Timetable:

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The map below shows the bus stop at Sodegaura station to board the bus. I have pinned the corresponding location on Google Map -> Here.

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Information on Tokyo German Village Winter Illumination:

Dates: Early Nov – End March

Opening Hours:

  • The village is open from 0930 to 2000.
  • Illumination begins from sun set.
  • Last entry is at 1930.

Admission Fee:  

  • 500 yen per pax (age 4 and above) for visitors arriving by public transport
  • 2000 yen per car for visitors arriving by their own vehicle

Map: Click here for Google Map location

Tel: 0438-60-5511

Map Code (what is this?): 49 561 209

Website: Homepage | Facebook Page

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18Comments

  1. Lolo says:

    OMG that’s so awesome! I love it! #CityTripping

  2. I’ve never seen anything like this, it makes European illuminations look piddling! Thanks for sharing! Wow! #citytripping

  3. Wow, those illuminations are amazing! #CityTripping

  4. Notmyyearoff says:

    This looks amazing and all so intricate. They’ve put so much effort into it all!

  5. A really impressive display despite not being the largest! I’m intrigued by the Japanese fascination with these lights – are they all year around? We do have them but only at Chriatmas time. The T-Rex was a nice touch! #citytripping

  6. Mandy says:

    The lights are so beautiful! This looks like an ideal place to visit in the winter! :)

  7. May says:

    This is so beautiful! You know? I read that Luminarie originated from the Kobe Luminarie since 1995. It commemorated the Great Hanshin Earthquake which struck the city on 17 January that year. After the quake, the people lived in darkness as electricity, gas and water supplies were unavailable. The putting up of lights symbolised hope and recovery and continued even after normalcy returned due to its popularity.

    Copied and Pasted it from Gardens BY the Bay website about Merry Medley *hhaha* in case you missed the history! But I’m sure you already know cause you are Japan Tour Agency ehehe

    I hear there’s a Night Festival [smaller scale than Japan] in Macau the night before we depart. I hope to catch that! #citytripping

  8. Jo Addison says:

    Wow! These illuminations look amazing – I love your photos! What an incredible experience. #citytripping

  9. That’s just astonishing, it’s amazing that you can go ‘into’ the illuminations too and play/explore. We just don’t really have anything similar so that’s amazing that there are more impressive ones. Thanks for linking up with #citytripping

  10. I have never seen anything like that – it is amazing and super amazing! I want to visit Japan for lots of reasons but i have just added another one to the list! #citytripping

  11. Elizabeth says:

    Wow! That is really impressive. I’ve never seen anything like that before!

  12. Umberta says:

    Wow!! This looks really beautiful & huge!!! nice pictures!! :)

  13. Cecilia says:

    This is really beautiful. Came across your blog when I was researching on some tips and suggested trips in Japan to bring my mom, and find it very helpful. Thanks for the sharing.

    I am planning an ad hoc trip in end Dec to early Jan with my sister and mom (80yrs of yrs, can walk but needs wheelchair at times) and looking for some places whereby it still convenient for me to travel with my mom. One of the considerations is Tokyo-Osaka-Kyoto. But decided to zoom in on just Osaka and Kyoto until I read your posting on self drive. And if it is even possible, I actually want to let my mom experience snow, so was looking for places nearby Osaka/Kyoto area.

    I haven’t been to Japan for some time, can’t remember how convenient or inconvenient for people who needs wheelchair, can I seek your advice on the following:

    1. This German Village that you went, is it convenient for wheelchair? No worries about slight slopes etc., as we will be able to wheel her as needed (been to Korea with her).

    2. Are you aware of any nearby ski resort or nice cabin stay to enjoy snow nearby osaka or kyoto?

    3. Is driving to Mt Fuji difficult? As it is likely inconvenient for me to keep taking public transportation or bus, so thinking of self drive after reading your self drive Tokyo-Osaka-Kyoto trip.

    4. I read your self driving tips in another posting, I have never driven in Japan but after researching on travelling around with my mum, I think it is easier to drive. Is it really easy to drive for a first timer around based on your itinerary of Tokyo-Osaka-Kyoto?

    Bringing kids on holiday can be challenging, same with old age people esp on wheelchair at times and needs careful consideration and planning. Any tips and advance you can give me will be most appreciated. Thanks in advance :-)

    • bumblebeemum says:

      In general, Japan has an ageing population so they do try to install wheelchair-accessibility amenities around. Major events like this illumination event tend to be wheelchair-friendly (like they will install slopes to go around places with steps), but they often require some detour.

      But when it comes to ski resorts, I don’t think wheelchairs and snow are best friends. Coz when I tried to push a stroller through snow, it was horrible. If you just want to see snow rather than go skiing, perhaps a sightseeing spot like the Shin-Hotaka ropeway would bring you up to a mountain and you would be able to see snow at the top with minimal walking around in the snow.
      http://shinhotaka-ropeway.jp.e.uk.hp.transer.com/price/

      For a self-drive trip, I think a better region to explore would be the central Japan (Takayama – Shirakawago – Kanazawa region) rather than going to Tokyo. When I think about my own parents, I think they would prefer the slower-paced rural / scenic areas more than Tokyo or Osaka. If I were bringing my parents, I would drive Kyoto – Nagoya – Takayama (you can do the Shin-Hotaka Ropeway from here) – Shirakawago – Kanazawa – Kyoto. And for illumination, the one at Nabana no Sato near Nagoya is awesome:
      http://bumblebeemum.net/2016/10/13/nabana-no-sato-illumination-nagoya-japan/

      • Cecilia says:

        That’s what I thought initially, Japan being an aging population, will have wheelchair accessibility amenities but I don’t recall seeing it commonly when I was taking subway in Tokyo. That’s why planning on self drive rather than taking subway/bullet train. Maybe I wasn’t observant then.

        Thanks so much for the info and suggestions. Was thinking adding Tokyo and Osaka more for myself and my sister, also interested to go Gotemba and the mushroom hut accommodation. Noted your comments, I will reconsider the itinerary.

        • bumblebeemum says:

          Oh.. Tokyo is the least wheelchair-friendly part of Japan I have visited. Lol… Driving would definitely save you a lot of trouble when you have a wheelchair compared to using trains. Usually the tourist attractions are catered for wheelchairs, but I can’t say the same for train stations. The train stations in Japan are huge and even if they do have accessibility amenities, they can be very hard to find. When we were pushing my sleeping kid in a stroller trying to find the lifts, we got so fed up of the long detours we had to make just to use the lifts that my husband gave up and just carried the stroller with the sleeping kid inside up and down the stairs.

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