December is here! The Holidays, Christmas music, markets, spiced wine, strolls through the snow, bright Christmas lights and decorated trees! The big cities have great attractions to celebrate the most festive time of the year. And even in Okinawa, down where the tropical temperature has just reached a low 20°C (68°F), Christmas is a wonderful opportunity to visit. If you love the season, but don't like the cold, the Ryukyu Islands invite you to a mild but non-the-less eventful Christmas. Here are five things to do on Okinawa-honto this December.
1. Handcraft Festa in Ginowan
Ginowan's very first handmade crafts festival is held at the Ginowan City office from the 8th to the 10th of December. Come and look at the nifty hand made goods by Ginowan's most talented artists. There are different booths to check out: pottery, leather work, weaving, carving and accessories. The artists had months to prepare and submit their crafts and were ranked in the beginning of December according to how detailed and original their designs are. On the last day of the festival, Sunday, the 10th, a charity auction is held and you have the chance to bid on your favorite craft.
2. Christmas Lights Festivals
No snow? No problem. Okinawa celebrates winter with Christmas lights anyways. They are called New Years lights and often the hotels and resorts put them up all the way until January or February. Here are two of the prettiest arrangements:
Itoman's Lights of peace
The Itoman Peaceful Illumination Festival ‘Lights of Peace’ is held at the Itoman Wine Farm in Mabuni. Admission is ¥200, which is so worth it! High school-age students and younger can get in for free! Every year this illumination is arranged and welcomes around 50,000 visitors. The New Year lights are decorated all over the park and make quite a beautiful sight.
Kanucha Resort Stardust Fantasia
This is the big one you should definitely check out if you love Christmas lights. The hotel resort has their gardens decorated from November 2017–February 28th, 2018. This year's theme is: Alegria de la luz de la vida which means, the time of rejoicing (Yorokobi no toki). It is open everyday from 6pm- 11pm (last admission: 9:30pm). The entry costs ¥1000 per person, but check out their group discount!
3. The Sumo Wrestling Tournament
Ever wanted to witness a real sumo match? This December you have the chance! On the 16th and 17th of December you can gather with other fans at the Okinawa Convention center to see the Sumo match up close! Tickets range from ¥7,000-22,000, depending on your seat at the event. In addition to your seat, you can purchase a ticket for food and sumo goods beforehand so you are well fed with a bento and drinks at the event and have a nice souvenir to take home. To get your spot at the event, purchase tickets beforehand at Ryubo or the convenience store Familymart ticket kiosks.
4. Christmas Experience in Mihama
If you just want to stroll through a nicely arranged Christmas looking town, Mihama American Village is just the place for you. Whether it is to enjoy a Christmas Starbucks, see some Christmas lights or do your yearly Christmas shopping, Chatan is the place! Here you find tons of stores that sell gifts or little Okinawan trinkets to take back home or to buy Christmas decorations at the all-year-round Christmas decoration shop.
5. Kodomo Kuni's Fantasy Festival in Okinawa City
U.S. Navy photo by Chief Mass Communication Specialist Ty Swartz on Wikimedia Commons
The Okinawa Kodomo Kuni invites all travelers to come and join their yearly fantastic illumination event that is held from the 22nd of December to the 29th. Cool Christmas lights, fun light shows, fireworks, games and even a snow slide (probably fake snow though, so be warned) await you there. The prices for the tickets cost ¥1,000 for kids (age 4 to middle schoolers) and ¥1,800 for teens and adults. Entry will be more expensive if you buy the tickets at the event so make sure you get them beforehand. The festival starts daily at 4:30pm and goes until 9:30pm. Check out their official site for more info!
Here you have it! A few good tips for your holiday in Okinawa this Christmas!