Tokyo Travelogue: Sagamiko Illumination

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Last week my boyfriend and I made an excursion to the outer limits of Tokyo, Sagamiko to be exact, for a trip to the Sagamiko Resort Pleasure Forest. Disregard the slighty lewd name, the area is actually a massive entertainment complex, none of which (to my knowledge at least) is the least bit X-rated.

There’s an a nice onsen (hot spring resort) on site, as well as a Paddington Bear branded camping ground, but the park is most well-known for it’s largely children’s themed amusement park. In the winter though, the park’s showcase is its nighttime illumination event, where the entirety of the grounds are decked out in what must be a few million lights. The theme for this year’s festival was the UK, and as my boyfriend is a total UK oktau (U-taku?) it was decided that we absolutely had to take the trip.

It was well worth it, even if it was more UK inspired than themed.

As I mentioned before, the resort is located in the town of Sagamiko, which is a very small town outside of Tokyo. Neither me nor my boyfriend knew much about the area beforehand, so we thought it might be fun to get out there an hour or so before the park opened so we could look around.

This was a mistake.

Behold. All Sagamiko has to offer.

Behold. All Sagamiko has to offer.

Sagamiko seems like a very lovely place, don’t get me wrong. There’s a nice lake. The view is nice. The people there seem great. But it felt like it was about two streets, three coffee shops a Circle K and not much else. Except for this weird fish statue/monument thing that was just kind of sad.

I don't know.

I don’t know.

Simultaneously depressed and kind of stoked to find that rural suburban Japan is just as desolate as the outskirts of Toledo, Ohio, my boyfriend and I boarded the bus to the resort to take in the lights. It was a short trip, probably just 15 minutes, but by the time we arrived at the resort night had fallen and the park had opened. The lights greeted us right away too, with this stunning red Mt. Fuji decorating the parking lot.

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After climbing (too) many stairs, we reached the park itself, and that’s when the scale of the attraction really hit me. I grew up in Toledo, and every year the zoo there has what I always thought was a thoroughly amazing light show with what must be hundreds of thousands of lights scattered across the entirety of the zoo. But compared to this, that light show was just total bullshit.

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Fields of light. Literal fields. As far as the eye could see. And the rolling hills going upward made it appear as if lights were going on for miles and miles. It was quite the display.

Like I said, the show was purportedly UK-themed, but we could only find a few scant examples of British influence throughout the fairgrounds. There was this Big Ben bit at the beginning.

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And this British marching band display near the end, but that was about it.

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Oh, and a double decker bus. Which was fun for posing.

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But the rest of it was just lights for lights sake. Not that I’m complaining though, it was really something else.

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A few of the park’s attractions were kept open, and they allowed for better views of some sections. The go kart race track was modified to feature automatic golf karts that gave tours around a more animal-themed section of the illumination, and that was a lot of fun. There was also a ski lift that took you up to an upper section, where you were greeted by Nessy.

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The upper area also had a Ferris wheel, which looked far better on the outside than in. Unfortunately the small and smudgy windows didn’t give much of a view. There was a thrill ride up there as well, but both my boyfriend and I are total wusses, so that wasn’t going to happen. The only other ride/attraction we partook in was a mirror maze, which was a lot of fun but didn’t really photograph well because mirrors.

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The show was exactly what I was hoping for, an amazing display of lights that would remind me of Christmases back home, with just enough Japanese idiosyncrasies to give it a unique flavor, like this giant freaking diamond in a fountain for no apparent reason.

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And a bootleg Nemo setpiece.

There's Nemo. I found him.

There’s Nemo. I found him.

There are plenty of illumination shows in Tokyo this time of year, but for me this one really took the cake in terms of scope. Most of the others are in the city proper, where space is always a concern. This one is really open and spread out, and thanks to it being out in the middle of nowhere, it wasn’t even that crowded – a real rarity for damn near any attraction of any kind in this country.

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The show runs until April, so if find yourself in the greater Tokyo anytime soon and want to check out something a little off the beaten path. I really recommend it. You can find the official English website here.

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