Japan doesn’t hold back with winter illuminations. Experience a sea of lights at Hakkeijima’s Night Aquarium Paradise!
Oh, winter in Japan… Shorter, colder days and longer, even more colder nights. The wind becomes increasingly dry, and more times than not, when this winter wind hits your skin it feels like deep sunburn – or windburn.
In total pain, winter could be the worst season ever in Japan. But even with the drier and less cheery weather, why would millions of people still flock to Japan during the winter?!
Garnering much deserved attention are the annual winter illuminations displayed around the country! Japan goes all out when it comes to winter lights. They’ll go over the top, installing a gazillion LED lights in trees, installations and everywhere to make the perfect show… or they’ll master the art of 4D projection mapping on buildings and display the most aesthetically fulfilling show you’ll ever see.
Recently, some aquariums have even jumped on board to show off their light magic too. So a few days ago, we went over to Hakkeijima Sea Paradise (near Yokohama) to experience winter luminescence – “Night Aquarium Paradise” – in full force!
Hakkeijima Sea Paradise
Hakkeijima Sea Paradise is an amusement park located 30 minutes from Yokohama. Not only does Hakkeijima have thrilling rides, it’s also a home to one of Japan’s best and most popular aquariums.
Admission into the park itself is completely free, whilst attractions within the park require separate tickets. Hakkeijima is a whopping 18 times bigger than Tokyo Dome, proving to be a massive sea wonderland indeed!
Kanagawa Seaside line Hakkeijima station
Even the train station looks so cute!
Night Aquarium Paradise (November 2016-February 2017)
From November to February next year, Hakkeijima transforms into a magical illuminated fantasy park during the nighttime.
There are a range of shows to see during the night at the park, from the fantastic project mapping show at the Boat Walk to the impressive dolphin night shows with winter luminescence.
We first went to check out the special winter dolphin show!
Throughout the program, the dolphins performed a medley of tricks, which really demonstrated how bright dolphins can be.
Highlight of the Night: Super Sardine Illumination!
After the show, we moved to the aquarium to see the Super Sardine Illumination show – which immediately became to true highlight of the night at sea paradise!
Entering the aquarium, we were greeted with a dazzling installation called the ‘Tree of Beginning’ (Hajimari no Ki). This gorgeous colour-changing tree stood near the penguins, so it was amusing to see adorable little penguins subtly waddling in the background.
Unfortunately it was a bit too dark for us to take the perfect selfie, but it was still an awesome thing to admire.
We then went to see the entrancing Super Sardine Illumination and as we watched this awesome display, we stood underneath the ‘Chandelier of Evolution’ (Shinka no Shanderia), a 4m-high chandelier.
In this amazing show, 70,000+ sardines alongside an abundance of other sea critters majestically swim in a stunning sea of dynamic lights. Background music was synchronised with the light show, which made the school of sardines and other fish extremely mesmerising to watch.
Occasionally there would be a random giant (more like monstrous) stingray or shark swimming in front of the sardines, really adding to the whole grandiose aqua magic effect of the showcase.
Later in the evening, we went to sip on some dolphin themed cocktails at “Club D” located in Dolphin Fantasy.
Dolphin Fantasy is an aquarium of dolphins, which can be seen through a glass tunnel. As we sipped on our fruity cocktails, the dolphins swam happily above us – it felt as if we were underwater! The tank of dolphins above us served as a roof of the bar itself, so we could also see the starry sky and moon’s lights glisten through the water.
There are small benches with small, personal fish tanks set up along the dolphin aquarium, making this a bar a superb place for a quiet romantic night out.
And of course, you need to check out the souvenir shops around Hakkeijima. It’s an aquarium after all, and aquariums = really good souvenir shops.
Hakkeijima’s souvenir shops are so good that they sell a giant whale plush toy that’s nearly as tall as 165cm Tuna (no, not the fish)!
We were so tempted to purchase it, but realised we don’t have a pool of water big enough for a whale at our office.
With such a grand display of astounding lights alongside sea creatures, winter in Japan doesn’t seem to be this dark and barren time you’d think it would be.
See you next time!
Hakkeijima Sea Paradise Information
Address: Hakkeijima, Kanazawa Ward, Yokohama, Kanagawa Prefecture 236-0006
Closest Station: Hakkeijima Station (Kanazawa Seaside Line)
Opening Hours: Differs according to day
Ticket reservation >>> hisgo