Osaka Winter – Things to Do in Osaka in Winter
Osaka in the winter is a wonderland of fantastic events and activities. Read on to discover the best of it.
Not as bitingly cold during the winter months as other Japanese cities, Osaka is a good choice for a winter getaway. And, with so much going on, it’d be a shame to miss out.
Find below a full guide to Osaka in winter, with all the information you’re going to need to make the most of the season in the city. Festivals and illuminations, Christmas markets and ice-skating, Osaka has it all.
Osaka Winter Illuminations
Who said winter had to be dreary? With a healthy splattering of light shows and illuminations across the city, Osaka is beautifully lit up throughout the winter months. Find the highlights below:
Osaka Festival of Light
Midosuji Illuminations, Osaka’s Festival of Lights, constitutes one of the world’s largest illumination events. A 4 km stretch of the central district of Umeda is given over to the festival for close to two months, so if you’re in the city you’ll be unlikely to miss it even if you try. With sections dedicated to each of the seasons, walk the display’s length and a year will go by in a flash (of a bulb).
When: From Nov 20th- Jan 09th, 05:00 pm- 10:00 pm
Osaka Castle 3D Mapping Super Illumination and Illumi Night Banpaku Xmas
Let Osaka introduce you to the multimedia delights of 3D mapping, with two stunning shows. The first, Illumi Night Banpaku Xmas, deploys sound and visual effects against the backdrop of the Tower of the Sun in the Expo ’70 Commemorative Park. This transcendent, surreal show is not to be passed up. The second is the succinctly named Osaka Castle 3D Mapping Super Illumination, at, you guessed it, Osaka Castle. Taking advantage of cutting edge audio-visual technology, images and sounds entwine in a spectacle like no other. Get yourself there.
When: Illumi Night Banpaku Xmas: December 11th -27th 2016: 05:00 pm- 00:00 am, Osaka Castle: December 15th- February 26th (TBF): 05:30 pm- 11:00 pm
Price: Illumi Night Banpaku Xmas: Adult: ¥250, Children (5- 12 years old): ¥70, Osaka Castle: ¥1700 – ¥2100.
Namba Hikaritabi Illuminations
This winter illuminations event lights up Namba Park in a dizzying array of colors. With plenty of shopping and dining options in the area, this is a great spot to spend a bit of time and relax.
When: November 16th – February 15th, 05:00pm- 00:00 am
Abeno Tennoji Iluminage
Now in its 4th year, Abeno Tennoji Iluminage is an illumination display held in Tennoji Park all year round, but especially spectacular against the deep black winter sky.
This year, be taken back to the Sengoku period. If you’re at all curious about how a period of intense conflict can be communicated in sparkling lights, get yourself down to the park. A particular highlight is the depiction of Seige of Osaka hero Sanada Yukimura.
Hours: 05:00 pm- 10:00 pm
Osaka Christmas Market
Osaka’s German Christmas market is held every year in front of the Umeda Sky Building. A typical Christmas market, expect an array of trinket and stocking filler peddlers, as well as a mouth-watering selection of food and drink stalls selling Christmas classics like mulled wine and grilled sausages.
Address: 1-1-88 Oyodo-naka, Kita-Ku, Osaka
When: November 20th – December 25th, Mon-Thu: 12:00 pm – 9:00 pm, Fri: 12:00 pm- 10 pm, weekends and holidays: 11 am – 10 pm.
Osaka Ice Skating
For some reason, ice skating is immensely popular in Japan. As a result, come winter, temporary ice rinks pop up all over. Osaka is no exception, with a number of rinks open to the public throughout the season. Three of the best, here:
Osaka Santa Run
Santa Run is a charity running event in which, naturally, participants dress as everyone’s favorite elderly gift-giver, Santa Clause. The participation fee goes toward children’s charities and includes the necessary Santa suit. Stop taking yourself so seriously, get out there and have a run around Osaka Castle for a good cause!
Address: 1-1 Osakajo, Chuo Ward, Osaka, Osaka
Hours: 9:00 am – 02:00 pm
Price: Adult: ¥3,000, Students: ¥2,000, Juniors: ¥1,000
Osaka Winter Festivals
1000 Times Rice Cake Pounding
When: January 2nd – 3rd, 10:00 am- 03:00 pm
Toka Ebisu Festival
Toka Ebisu Festival is one of the most popular winter festivals in Osaka. Honoring the gods of business, the festival attracts thousands of people every year, all hoping for a successful year in business.
When: Jan 9th – Jan 11th
Doya Doya Matsuri
Doya Doya is a festival held at Shitenno-Ji Temple annually as a harbinger of good luck. Notoriously, the highlight of the festival involves freezing, semi-naked young men competing for the retrieval of a talisman from the Temple’s front hall. The ritual is said to bring good harvests and good luck for students sitting exams.
Address: 1-11-18 Shitennoji,Tennoji-ku,Osaka
Hours: January 14th, 2:30 pm
Setsubun is one of the most popular Buddhist ceremonies, held in shrines throughout Japan to welcome spring. Osaka’s Setsubun is held at Ishikiri-Tsurugiya Shrine. Festivalgoers throw and scatter roasted beans while chanting “Fuku wa uchi, oni wa soto” (Come in fortune, go away evil) to drive evil spirits away. It is also told that if you eat the number of beans that corresponds to your age, good health will follow. A show is included with more than 50 priests wearing samurai costume, scattering beans, peanuts and rice cakes to ward off evil.
When: February 3rd, 2 pm
Ichiya Kanjo Festival
Ichiya Kanjo Festival is held annually at Nozato Sumiyoshi-Jinja Shrine as a blessing of good fortune to young girls. During this festival, many shows and parades involving traditional dress, dancing and music are put on to the delight of all attending. This parade reflects a Kansai legend where a young girl was sacrificed to a baboon for her village, considered gods at that time.
Hours: Febuary 20th, 2 pm