Japan’s ​Best Light Festival, ​New Year Rail Travel in Japan, USJ Now World’s 3rd Most-Visited Theme Park



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Kobe Luminarie: Japan's Best Light Festival

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The Kobe Luminarie is a spectacular light festival held every year in Kobe, Hyōgo Prefecture, first appearing in 1995.

It commemorates the Great Hanshin earthquake of that year, acting as a beacon of hope and recovery.

This stunning, multi-location display of millions of tiny coloured lights crafted into ornate and intricate displays attracts millions of visitors to Kobe every year.

It's a must see in winter time in Japan if you're in the Kansai area.

This year, for the first time, the event moves from its traditional December slot to 10 days every evening between 19 to 28 January 2024.

So, I've given my previous guide to Kobe's Luminarie a major update. Including:

  • Several new sections, including details on the new dates and locations of the installations
  • New, bigger and better-quality photos
  • Video of a walk through the festival  (see below)
  • New section about Kobe Illuminage (another light winter light festival in Kobe!)
  • Details on how to get to Kobe
  • Photo gallery

I hope you enjoy it!

VIDEO: Walking The Spectacular Kobe Luminarie

I also have a video of Kobe's Luminarie festival, shot prior to the pandemic.

I've included the walk through video in my blog post about the event, but if you just want to watch the video only, here it is...

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New Year Rail Travel in Japan - Changes to Services

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Friend of The Real Japan Stephen Turner (an expert on rail travel in Japan) posted some helpful information inside my Private Facebook Group about service changes affecting the busy New Year period of rail travel in Japan.

Since most bulletin subscribers are not members of my group, I thought I'd share his post here in my bulletin so you didn't miss out on his expertise.

Over to Stephen...

"Between 28th December and 4th January there will be no Unreserved Seats on Nozomi Shinkansen services on the Tokaido and Sanyo Shinkansen lines (Tokyo~Osaka~Hiroshima~Fukuoka).

Also on the 29th, 30th of Dec, 2nd and 3rd of Jan, Seat Reservation fares will be subject to a Y400 surcharge and 28th, 31st, 2nd & 5th Jan Y200 surcharge.

On other shinkansen routes operated by JR East peak time surcharges will also apply (however JR East does this on most holidays). Also please note that some trains on the Hokuriku Shinkansen and Tohoku Shinkansen and all trains on the Akita and Yamagata Shinkansen are always reserved seats only.

If you will be travelling over the New Year period (which is a long holiday in Japan) then you should try and book trains (including Limited Express trains as well as flights and express buses) as early as you can (which can be done up to 1 month prior to the date of travel).

It is not all negative news: many extra trains will operate during the New Year Period on long distance shinkansen and Limited Express routes. Timetables will be released in November.

You might find Stephen's guide to Regional Japan Rail Passes on my site useful. Also, be sure to check out Stephen's website - hit the button below - and say hello from me. 😊

Universal Studios Japan Now World's 3rd Most-Visited Theme Park!

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Universal Studios Japan has moved up to the third most-visited theme park - in the entire world!

According to a report from the Themed Entertainment Association and infrastructure consultancy AECOM, the Osaka-based park attracted a total of 12.35 million people in 2022, a 125% surge from 2021 and equivalent to around 85% of pre-pandemic levels.

Its success comes from a mix of Hollywood and Japanese characters after more than 100 billion yen ($700 million) in investment over the past decade. Culminating with the opening of the world's first Super Nintendo World in 2021.

I'm not entirely surprised, as my in-depth Universal Studios Japan - Ultimate Guide - recently updated to a new 2024 edition - has been my most viewed post by some margin this year, and currently has over 90 comments.

You can read the full story on the Nikkei Asia website - just hit the button below.

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