The Jewel in the crown of Mie’s Winter! Nabana no Sato Illumination 2021-2022

The Jewel in the crown of Mie’s Winter!  Nabana no Sato Illumination 2021-2022

When it comes to Mie in winter, at the top of everyone’s “must-do” list should be the illumination at Nabana no Sato!
This illumination event marks its 18th anniversary in 2021. It is famous as one of the largest-scale illumination events not only in Mie Prefecture but also in Japan. This year, the event is more colorful than ever and is being held from October 23, 2021 to May 31, 2022.

Written by Pete Leong

Nabana no Sato is a flower theme park located in Kuwana City, Mie Prefecture, and is part of the Nagashima Resort, a resort facility that includes a huge amusement park, hot spring facilities, an outlet shopping mall, and hotels.

The park truly is a work of art with its breathtaking flower displays and the mind-boggling craftsmanship that has gone into creating an illuminated paradise that is sure to have every visitor awe-struck. Each season and year the themes of the park are changed. 

After entering through the gates, we made our way around the park’s attractions in an anti-clockwise path as shown on the map. There is something amazing to see around every corner. And for photographers like myself, it can take some more time to make one’s way around as we tend to stop to get the “perfect” shot of every area. 
Keep in mind that the deeper you get into the park, the more amazing it becomes.  

We made our way along to one of the first major attractions, the water illumination Hikari-no-taiga (“great river of light”). As we walked along to the far end of it, we passed the stunning Twin Trees, two tall Himalayan cedars lit with lots of tiny lights positioned with precision along their 20-meter-tall trunks and branches. There are also several restaurants with Japanese, Western, and Chinese foods that were very tempting. But we were on a mission and stuck to the path to hunt for the best photo opportunities. 

The 130-meter-long pond suddenly comes alive with twinkling colors, lighting up in time with a magical soundtrack. This is Japan’s largest water illumination display.  It was also beautiful to see across the pond to other visitors silhouetted against illuminated Japanese maple trees. 

Next, we hopped on what appeared to be a large UFO with Mt. Fuji coming out of its center, called Island Fuji. This ride took us up 45 meters above the park and slowly rotates 360 degrees to give fantastic birds-eye views of the entire park and even out over Yokkaichi and Nagoya cities. 

After coming back to earth we entered the Begonia Garden, a massive greenhouse with four connecting greenhouses. This is hands down the most impressive flower display I have ever seen. The perfect spot for wide and close-up macro photographs, I could spend a full day only here, just taking photos of all the details. 

Making our way now around to the far end of the park, we came to some of the most beautiful sights to see. The 200-meter-long tunnel of light known as Hanakairo opens into this year’s main theme area, the “UNKAI (sea of clouds).” It is an area not usually open except during the illumination period. This year, it’s a huge jaw-dropping light display with a sea of lights surrounded by a long row of lit-up trees, with the centerpiece being a mountain made entirely of lights. Here the landscape is lit up with light portraying different seasons and themes, all to a wonderful soundtrack. One minute it was a dazzling snowy mountain, the next it would change to a sand desert dune complete with animations of camels, and then into an underwater sea creature display. Just amazing!

There is a dining area with plenty of seating overlooking the “UNKAI” area, the perfect spot for a quick snack and something to drink before heading to the cosmos flower fields. Right behind the cafe area is a huge field of beautiful cosmos flowers where we stopped for a few portrait photos. Here I would recommend using a longer lens if you have one so that you can zoom in across the field to your subject and have them surrounded by the flowers. 

As we made our way back towards the exit of the park, we passed a shorter but equally stunning, curvy 100-meter light tunnel named “Ume” (plum), and then the mirror pond where the bright Japanese maples are perfectly reflected in the pond below. 

Back by the entrance, we picked out a few craft beers to try. There are also plenty of great places to eat here as well. 

For those who want to get the best photos in the park, I would highly recommend bringing a small portable mount for your phone or camera, as tripods are technically not allowed in the park. Using some kind of mount will allow you to take long exposure images which will really bring out all of the lights and colors at their best. Short of that, if you own a camera with interchangeable lenses I suggest that you bring fast prime lenses so that you can shoot handheld but still take in lots of light. As for as focal lengths, I would say a wide-angle in the range of 15-24mm and a telephoto of around 80-200mm will serve you best. 

Nabana no Sato is such an amazing place, with sights and sounds going on all around you but still managing to keep a strong connection with nature. It’s sure to be an experience you will never forget. 

Nabana no Sato Illumination 2021-2022

Tourist attractions covered by this article