Japan’s wildest light display is back

(CNN) — It’s one of Japan’s greatest winter illumination festivals, famed for using millions of LED light bulbs to depict beautiful scenes of nature from Japan and around the world.

Nabana No Sato, located in the garden of Nagashima Resort in Japan’s Kuwana City, has special plans for 2018. It’s highlighting Kumamoto, one of Japan’s earthquake-shaken prefectures. This is the first time it’s done so.

“We’ve been showing the beauty of nature throughout the world,” says Yasuyo Otani, Nagashima Resort’s spokesperson.

“We’ve introduced Mount Fuji, the Swiss Alps, Northern Europe’s Aurora shows — just to name a few. Our main theme of this year is ‘Kumamon’s hometown dream in Kumamoto.'”

Kumamon, a black bear, is Kumamoto Prefecture’s superstar mascot.

“This year’s theme features beautiful landmarks of Kumamoto, where Kumamon travels.”

The initiative is aimed at promoting Kumamoto as a tourist destination. The prefecture’s tourism industry suffered after a powerful earthquake shook the prefecture in April 2016.

Kumamoto is in southern Japan on the island of Kyushu, about 800 kilometers (about 500 miles) away from Nagashima Resort.

Highlighting the beauty of Kumamoto

This year’s Nabana no Sato promotes Kumamoto prefecture, which was hit by a powerful earthquake in 2016.

copyright 2010 Kumamoto Pref. Kumamon

“These earthquakes have destroyed most of the significant sightseeing areas, including Kumamoto Castle, which is under reconstruction right now,” says Otani.

“This year’s illumination theme was decided with a strong desire to cooperate with Kumamoto’s reconstruction through promoting Kumamoto by illumination.”

The resort has also placed donation boxes around the site.

In addition to the main Kumamoto-themed light show, Nabana No Sato’s popular light tunnel is back.

The 100-meter illuminated tunnel features thousands of sakura-shaped bulbs depicting different stages of cherry blossom growth.

Nabana No Sato’s winter illumination will take place until May 6, 2018. New displays will be added for the new year and during spring when the garden will be filled with flowers.

The resort is also home to one of Japan’s largest amusement parks.

Nabana no Sato, 270 Komae, Nagashima-chō, Kuwana-shi, Mie-ken; +81 (0)511 1144

Walking into an oil painting? The fragrant wisteria tunnel, the most stunning display at the Kawachi Fuji Garden, makes it possible. With flowering vines overhead, the walkway is said to inspire a zen-like calm in visitors. The garden displays about 150 wisteria plants of 20 different species. It hosts the annual Wisteria Festival at the end of April, when the flowers are in full bloom.

Kawachi Fuji Garden, 2-2-48 Kawachi, Kitakyushu, Fukuoka, Japan; +81 936 52 0334

K. Fukunaga/JNTO

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