All About Japan

Get 'Spirited Away' at this Nagasaki Festival

| Festivals , Nagasaki

Japan celebrates the new year on January 1, in accordance with the Gregorian calendar. However, in certain cities with large Chinese ethnic populations, such as Yokohama, Kobe, and Nagasaki, festivities are also held for the lunar Chinese New Year.

In Nagasaki, the Chinese New Year celebration coincides with an event called the Nagasaki Lantern Festival. Along with other colorful decorations, over 15,000 paper lanterns are hung around the city’s Shinchi Chinatown, Hamaichi and Kankodori neighborhoods.

For 15 days, locals and travelers alike come out after the sun goes down to walk the streets, bathed in soft crimson light. But while strolling under the lanterns gives the feeling of having slipped into another time or place, the scenery is even more otherwordly when viewed from the train, as in this video shared by Japanese Twitter user @hitsuji_eat.

Recorded while riding Nagasaki’s Electric Tramway streetcar network, the video shows the streetcar passing through a stretch of the city where few illuminated buildings can be seen from the windows. Instead, the tram appears to be traveling through a mysterious world of dark, empty space, save for the hundreds of lanterns seemingly floating in mid-air.

Appreciative online commenters have been gushing over the beautiful sight, with more than a few comparing it to the lantern-lit cityscape of celebrated Studio Ghibli anime Spirited Away. The video was recorded between Nigiwaibashi and Nishihamanomachi Stations, a three-minute journey that costs just ¥120 (US$1.03), which is a serious bargain for what looks like a trip to another world.

While 2017's lunar New Year lantern display ended on February 11, we can't wait to see what the cities have in store for next year!

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