Nagasaki has Japan’s oldest Chinatown and every year it celebrates the first 15 days of the Chinese New Year with a spectacular Lantern Festival. The festival is filled 15,000 lanterns, parades, music, dance, acrobatic performances, and fireworks!
Nagasaki has been certified as one of the world’s top 3 nighttime views. There’s no better time to soak it in than during the annual Nagasaki Lantern Festival. As a port city operating for nearly 450 years, Nagasaki has had a lot of foreign influences and is home to the oldest Chinatown in Japan.
Nagasaki Lantern Festival
Each year, starting on the Chinese New Year, the city comes alive for two weeks. Over 15,000 lanterns adorn the streets, bridges, shopping arcades and alleys of Nagasaki. (In 2018, Chinese New Year’s and the first day of the Lantern Festival will be on Friday, February 16th.)
Traditional lanterns swing overhead, and many life-size (and larger than life!) lanterns shaped like various people and animals can be seen around every corner. Some of the zodiac animal displays reach 8 meters (26 feet) in height. For 2018, the Dog will be taking its turn being celebrated as the year’s central animal.
Walking among the lanterns in the brisk winter air is magical enough, but each night of the festival boasts shows, parades, dances, acrobats, fireworks and much more. The activities are centered around a handful of parks and spaces near Chinatown, with Minato Park and Chuo Park being two of the most exciting and popular locations to check out.
Come early to claim a spot as the crowds can get quite packed at peak times. Or just wander around from venue to venue, taking advantage of the street food and festive air along the way.
Nagasaki Street Food
Whether you enjoy festival foods like roasted corn on the cob, Japanese-style fried chicken, hot bowls of ramen, or special treats like fresh fish-shaped pancakes called taiyaki (my personal favorite!) that are stuffed with chocolate, cream, or red-bean paste, there is plenty to eat, see and do!
See how Taiyaki is made!
Thinking if attending the Nagasaki Lantern Festival?
If you plan on attending the Nagasaki Lantern Festival, then check out the Official Tourism Website for Nagasaki City. Each year they will post the festival dates along with entertainment and parade schedules. They also have a multilingual hotline just for tourists of Nagasaki City. The hotline is open 365 days a year and available in English, Korean, and Chinese.