Colorful light display

The Summer Lights of Minowa

Ina City, Nagano Prefecture — With a dragon lit up year-round close to the Ina Matsushima Station, its bright lights shining magnificently in the night, one may find themselves wondering just how marvelous a whole event dedicated to illumination could be. The answer can easily be found by attending the summer illumination event held in Ina City’s Center Park Matsushima.

What is an Illumination Event?

Colorful light display and welcome sign

Illumination events in Japan have become popular in cities all across the country. They are typically held during the winter season, usually from December to January, however there are events that start in October and end as late as February. They are thusly called winter illumination events, and tend to bring a sense of warmth and happiness in the cold winter season. Couples looking to enjoy a romantic evening will often go to these events, as well as families who bring their children to watch the dazzling lights dancing throughout the night. Audiences however are not limited, and many come with friends or even alone with their cameras to capture that special moment in time.

The setup of these events can range from simple to elaborate—some of these events are small and quiet with a more personal atmosphere, while others can even go as far as to have light shows by turning on some popular music and choreographing the lights to dance in time with the chosen song. Whether it be small or large however, it can’t be denied that all of the thought and work put into these events really does pay off!

What is the Summer Illumination Event of Ina?

While the typical illumination event in Japan is held in the winter, Ina usually has a special illumination event in the summer for everyone to enjoy. It is held at the Center Park Matsushima and this year’s event is being held from July 28th until September 30th.

Poster for the illumination event

As it is not a very large space, it is one of the more simple illumination events out there; however, each year that the lights are put on display, there are definitely noticeable changes in its design. For example, in one location, where there once stood frogs fiddling away at their violins, there are now a plethora of underwater sea creatures.

Light display of sea creatures

Each year, there are significant changes that always have a theme and a story to tell. This year’s sub-theme is ‘umi no fantasy’, meaning ‘ocean fantasy’, which seems to be a part of the bigger theme of ‘Legends of the Tenryuugawa’. The Tenryuugawa, with ‘gawa’ meaning ‘river’, is Japan’s ninth longest river. It snakes through Nagano Prefecture and exits into the Philippine Sea, and is known for its fast turbulent waters and its high likelihood to flood—a powerful river in all records.

lit-up flower decorations

As mentioned before, there is a story and significance behind each piece placed at the summer illumination event in Ina. You’ll only really be able to get a glimpse as to what it is however if you go ahead and take the next train over to Ina Matsushima Station, and you should hurry — the event this year is almost coming to a close and the next event will most likely have a new story to it accompanied by another creative and well-thought-out design!

Further Information

There is no parking at this park, so it would be best to catch the train there.

How to Get There: Center Park Matsushima is located within a short walking distance of Ina Matsushima Station. After exiting Ina Matsushima Station, take a left, and keep walking straight and once you reach the first intersection, the park should be on your right.

  • Japanese Address: 〒399-4601 長野県上伊那郡箕輪町中箕輪9524-4
  • English Address: 9524-4 Nakaminowa, Minowamachi, Kamiinagun, Nagano Prefecture  399-4601
  • Telephone Number: 0265-79-2117 (+81-265-79-2117)
  • Operating Hours: 7/28 – 9/30 (19:15 – 22:30)

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