Filled with marvelous displays and breathtaking performances, this is one festival you won’t want to miss.

Nagasaki Prefecture in southwestern Japan is home to some of the most beautiful sights in the country, like a beach made out of glass and a shrine that can only be visited when the tide is low. And if that’s not enough, Nagasaki City itself is currently holding a gorgeous Lantern Festival, with some 15,000 lanterns bathing various districts in warm light. Held every February in winter, visitors will feel as if they have suddenly stepped into another world.

▼ The event is celebrated alongside the Chinese New Year over a span of two weeks.

Some of Nagasaki’s architecture greatly resemble that in China, in no small part due to trade relations between the two countries during the early days. Colorful lanterns, acrobatic performances and elaborate parades provide the finishing touches, creating a magical illusion that mesmerizes anyone who enters.

Yet the event can be a little overwhelming for first-timers who might not know how to best enjoy the festival. This is where our Japanse-language reporter Mariko Ohanabatake comes in. Born in Nagasaki, Mariko has put together a list of four must-see areas that visitors should not miss during the Lantern Festival.

1. Nagasaki Chinatown

This is the main area of the festival, where streets are lit up by vibrant lanterns. The Chinatown in Nagasaki might not be as large as those in Kobe or Yokohama, but it is still impressive nonetheless.

Stores in Chinatown tend to close at about 9 p.m., which is a good time to snap gorgeous pictures as there will be less people crowding around displays.

2. Tojin Mansion

Located a little distance from Chinatown, the chill atmosphere, meandering roads and Chinese-styled buildings found here will leave a mark on your heart. The otherworldly lanterns here really give off a Spirited Away vibe.

▼ A fantastic place to stroll through during the day or at night.

3. Meganebashi, also known as Spectacles Bridge.

So named due to the image of a pair of spectacles created in the water by its two arches, Meganebashi is regarded by the locals as a romantic date spot. With yellow and green lanterns in place, the venue becomes even more magical.

4. The train ride between Sofukuji and Dejima.

A glimpse from a train window would be enough to convince you that you are indeed traveling into the world of Spirited Away. Mariko recommends riding after 10 p.m., as fewer commuting passengers mean that visitors can have the entire viewing gallery to themselves.

Consider yourself lucky if you manage to board the special blue “Minato” train, which comes with a plush wooden interior, trendy sofas and stained glass for the ultimate viewing experience.

▼ Priced the same as regular trains, be sure to check out its operating schedule under “みなと” here if you intend to board it.

▼ The Nagasaki Lantern Festival has gained steam throughout the years, turning into a huge event unlike any other.

As the event ends on 19 February, those hoping to catch a glimpse of this mystical festival ought to head on down and snap some gorgeous photos right away. Once that is done, why not hop over to Huis Ten Bosch, a theme park with streets that look exactly like those found in the Netherlands?

Photos ©SoraNews24
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