Issue No.11, Winter Illumination in Hamamatsu
As seasons pass, people from all corners of the earth prepare for the changes and milestones that new seasons bring. In western culture, even as the summer months come to a close, people tend to look past fall and become excited for what many believe to be the most important event of the whole calendar: Christmas.
Although it is not a national holiday, nor are there many Christians in Japan, in recent decades Christmas has become widely popular. All over Japan people take up traditions such as decorating their homes, exchanging gifts with loved ones and celebrating Christmas with a special meal or cake. From a commercial perspective, Santa Claus can be found as early as October with many businesses and retailers taking advantage of this popularity.
The winter months in Hamamatsu tend to be cold and dark, but over the last decade, Hamamatsu's winters have been lit up by the presence of City Center Winter Illumination
displays. Bright and colorful lights cast a warm sparkling glow over the city, and surely bring warmth to the hearts of Hamamatsu City residents. With the recent economic dip and development of various suburban shopping malls around Hamamatsu's outskirts, the number of city center shoppers has fallen, and businesses have suffered. In response to this problem of dwindling city center visitors, taking over illumination responsibilities in 2010, the Hamamatsu Downtown Revitalization Council
has put on a more spectacular City Center Illumination display than ever. This City Center Illumination
has transformed into a whole Winter Festival
, and these endeavors transmit the Hamamatsu Downtown Revitalization Council's
great efforts in bringing more people into the city center. Everyone is encouraged to help brighten up the dark winter evenings through their own illumination efforts; there is a contest running for the best illumination display in the city. Various events take place in the city center during this Winter Festival
period, including stage performances and a breathtaking night time display of 5,000 candles, which bring people of all ages and cultural backgrounds together in the city center.
These endeavors stretch beyond the limits of the city center. The already stunning Hamamatsu Flower Park has reversed its opening hours, only allowing guests in after nightfall, for one very important reason; The park has been transformed, with the help of 600,000 lights, into an incredible Winter Illumination
wonderland. Stepping through the front gates and immediately greeted with the brilliant water show and astonishing Winter Illumination
displays sparkling across the parks landscape, one is sure to be breath taken. Combining the parks exquisite flora and fauna and remarkable
with Winter Illuminatinos
sparkling against the night sky, like Christmas itself, it is a truly wonderful, heartwarming winter experience. Similar to the coinciding Illumination endeavors in Hamamatsu's city center, the management of the Flower Park has seen this illumination event as an opportunity to reinvigorate their offering and attract both new and repeat visitors. Though it is not merely just a display of Winter Illumination
; the park's Crystal Palace Greenhouse
is home to a Christmas calendar packet with musical events, Christmas Night Concerts
, for all of Hamamatsu's citizens to enjoy. There is a wonderful performance area set up inside the greenhouse, which is decorated with holly wreaths, Christmas trees, countless Snowmen and of course, Father Christmas himself.
Hamamatsu residents both young and old become actively involved with and thoroughly enjoy the various endeavors and events employed by the various groups, associations and hardworking citizens of Hamamatsu City. The face of the city seems to change every season, with the multicultural resident population coming together to ring in each new season in new and exciting ways. The Winter Illuminations are a welcome winter uplift, brightening up the city and encouraging people to get out, embrace the seasons and be active in enjoying the city center, no matter what the weather. What the city will have in store for its residents come spring?