What You Should Know if You’re Visiting Okukawachi Illuminage in Osaka

What You Should Know if You’re Visiting Okukawachi Illuminage in Osaka

Every winter, this illumination event lights up suburban Osaka!

As with all other seasons throughout the year, winter in Japan comes with its own set of traditions and events to look forward to. A relatively new tradition in South Osaka, winter illuminations light up cold nights with dazzling displays that will warm up even the most frigid of souls.

okukawachi illuminage osaka

Image Credit: mrhayata https://www.flickr.com/photos/mrhayata/4112476234/in/photolist-q6VJ6K-dvLDfB-Sofbu3-SWX2kg-q6PioG-RNTRa5-BLd3uV-7gpvUE-7oYyyo-X3JfuB-UJx8D3-JTbbFL-qeDXJJ-RsNgJ5-REsXiN-prnP7J-VU9iBH-UJxavu-rVvtQT-MvmQKE-TL3fe8-RYR9yG-qeHFdc-pXajWW-21UwYdF-SfxqT1-TKp8tW-phXAL6-qeDZ2U-26Fce1V-SfxqkN-prBbpM-UMPUJ8-VpKhLu-SSd2dN-VtQbmp-q6Nv2m-VATham-qoinAu-JTbab1-7oTq7x-MvmQ6y-VAR2R5-qm5PwQ-Uny3WG-qm5Yb3-UvUUtD-ShxMiC-SNMQmQ-SNMGA9

Hoping to experience the sights myself, I headed to the Okukawachi Illuminage, an illumination event I chanced upon on an events website. The Illuminage was a yearly event that happened from the end of a year to the beginning of the next, so it was one of the few that I could head to that hadn’t already ended.

The event happened in the Osaka Prefectural Flowers Garden, a spacious outdoor park (three times the size of the famous Koshien Stadium) that is home to a sizeable greenhouse and beautiful flower displays year-round.

okukawachi illuminage osaka

After paying for the admission to get in, I was greeted by a sea of colours. Multiple-coloured lights had been installed on to the flower fields, simulating flower blooms that wouldn’t arrive for another three months or so. Soft music was playing over the speakers, creating a festive mood.

I headed further into the park, hoping to meet up with my friend. I was greeted by yet another sight — a still lake accompanied by lit-up figures of angels and swans. A little up ahead was a beautiful tunnel made out of tiny lights — a wonderful passage to take pictures in.

okukawachi illuminage osaka

I soon met up with my friend and we explored the rest of the park. Just past the tunnel of lights was the garden square, where one could take pictures with the event mascot. There was also a restaurant there, though it was already closed for the day (no thanks to my extended journey getting here).

The greenhouse featured incandescent animals — which seem to be a mainstay of this annual event — running after glowing peaches. I’m sure that there’s a narrative but it’s lost on me. The lights have definitely transformed the area into a magical place to walk in, and a nice reprieve from the winter cold. There was also a convenient little cafe that sold drinks and light food, too.

Outside, we continued past more dazzling displays — most notably a garden of lit-up trees, a simulated waterfall of flowing colours, and a square outlined with rows of lights, giving it a dramatic and IG-worthy look.

It was a pity that the illuminations didn’t extend through the full area of the park, granted such a feat would definitely be a great toll on the electricity bill. Nonetheless, the event was definitely worth going to, especially if you want to take in something else besides lit-up cityscapes. Though, personally, it wasn’t worth the agony I went through getting there.

Heading the long way around and getting lost

The illumination was a little way out of the city, so it took me an hour’s train ride before I arrived at the nearest bus terminal. The sun had already set when I finally reached the bus stop nearest to garden, which was a kilometre walk away.

I was in front of a neighbourhood, though there didn’t seem to be a mall or any large establishment around — I was in suburban Osaka. My phone navigation in hand, I started on my search for the park.

Now I should clarify that I was using a Windows phone at that time. The phone suited my needs, was beautiful to look at, but it had a serious problem: It was lacking in the applications department and that meant it didn’t have Google Maps, too. All I had to rely on was a third-party application that could only vaguely show me the way.

About 15 minutes into the walk, I began to be unsure of the path I was taking. Up ahead was a highway and the phone soon told me that I was walking further away from the park. I decided that I should double back and head through the housing estate instead, which my phone indicated was in the general direction of the park.

Image source: https://pxhere.com/en/photo/612086

By this time, it had already gotten dark and I was desperate to get to my destination. I was expecting to meet my friend earlier and I was already late. As I made my way through the housing estate, my phone showed that I was nearing the park, but my joy was short-lived.

I soon reached the other end of the housing estate and was met with a tall fence, shrubbery, and a steep slope that ran down from the other end of the fence. My phone indicated that the park was just beyond that fence, and through the shrubs, I could make out the lights from the event. So near yet so far.

I attempted to walk around the fence, but soon found myself on the highway that I had avoided earlier. Determined to reach the park after I have seen it from afar, I continued on the path that ran beside the highway.

Image Credit: 小石川人晃 – 投稿者自身による作品, CC 表示-継承 https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=42166169

The path was dimly lit with yellow street lamps and I saw paddy fields from a distance, as well as the occasional roadside restaurant. While my phone wasn’t showing me the exact way to the park, at least I knew that I was circling around it. I soon found a path that I could walk through to reach the park, but it was pitch dark due to the absence of street lamps. I decided against walking through it and continued on.

By this time, I had already spent close to an hour wandering around the Osakan Suburbs, and I was slightly disheartened by the freezing cold and my sore feet. But after asking some friendly convenience store staff for directions, I finally reached my destination.

Just before I entered, I noticed that the garden’s carpark was filled with cars. It would seem that the best mode of transport to this event would be to drive here.

Here are two tips for going to the Okukawachi Illuminage: go by car, or if not, head there before dark. It would seem that there is a path leading through trees to the park at the end of the neighbourhood, though it had been cordoned off when I got there. All the best finding your way back if you get there on foot, though; the shorter route back to the bus stop is through the pitch-dark path that I thankfully avoided on my way there.

The next Okukawachi Illuminage happens from 15 Dec 2018 to 4 Mar 2019
Click here for more information (in Japanese): https://loconavi.jp/events/146516

Also read: Exploring Japan: 3 Day Osaka Itinerary Covering Top 8 Attractions

About Author

Gabriel Oh
Gabriel Oh

A lover of words and their intrinsic value, Gabriel enjoys a good book as much as he does writing a good story. While he dabbles in illustration and photography, he just wishes that they would love him back as much. Gabriel has a deep-rooted interest in Japanese culture and language, eventually venturing to the Land of the Rising Sun for the first time in 2016. Having made many wonderful memories there, he now hopes to share what he has so that others can learn from his stories and eventually make their own.


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