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Okinawa lights of holiday season

By: Bill Charles

Date Posted: 2007-12-21

Colorful lights are twinkling and casting their glow off the night skies of Okinawa, a sign that Christmas is just around the corner. Holiday lights are traditional, and here, the illuminations are fantastic.

The 9th annual Itoman City Peaceful Illumination is under way at Peace Memorial Park. Created by Okinawa Prefecture University of Arts students, this year’s illumination is themed “The snow is coming to Itoman City with fantastic beams of light. Let the light in your mind for world peace.”

Peace Memorial Park, the site of the last fighting during the Battle of Okinawa at Mabuni in 1945, forms the backdrop for the illumination. Entry fee is ¥200 for adults and youth 15 and older. An estimated 120,000 will make the trek south to take in the splendor of more than 1.3 million light bulbs in the display. There will be fireworks Christmas Eve and New Year’s Eve, and a countdown heralds in the new year.

Southeast Botanical Gardens Christmas and New Year’s Paradise 2007-2008 offers its Christmas illumination amidst natural greenery, flowers and tropical trees. The blue birds from the story of a small girl, Chiru-Chiru, and boy Michiru are the theme for this year’s illumination, which runs through January 2nd. A spectacular light show takes visitors to fairy land. Admission for adults and children 12 and older is ¥1,800 in advance or ¥2,000 at the park. Children 6~11 pay only ¥900 advance admission or ¥1,000 at the park. Children five and under are free.

Christmas Fantasy 2007 opens this weekend at Okinawa Zoo Park, complete with tons of snow. The year’s first snow will be December 22nd, the opening day of the 12th annual Okinawa Zoo Park Christmas Fantasy. The six-day holiday special event will feature a taste of real winter, as fantasy creators open a couple of kamakura snow cottages, a Japanese style igloo, to give everyone a chance to experience the cool feel of snow.

Okinawa’s best known laser show is a part of the Christmas Fantasy, a skillful blend of lasers, fireworks, snow and soap bubbles. Okinawa Zoo Park will have three shows daily, at 6:20 p.m., 8 p.m. and 9:40 p.m.

It snows in Kodomo-no Kuni daily, offering a White Christmas complete with opportunities to build snowmen and have snowball fights. The snow forecast calls for the powdery white stuff to flake down daily at 4:20 p.m., 5:40 p.m., 7:30 p.m., and 9 p.m. As visitors enjoy the snow, they can also take in the daily Christmas Concert at 8:30 p.m.

Christmas Fantasy will run December 22nd ~ 27th from 4 p.m. to 10 p.m. Adult and high school student tickets are ¥1,700 in advance, or ¥2,000 at the gate. Children’s tickets for youngsters 4 through junior high school are ¥1,000 in advance or ¥1,200 at the gate. Tickets are available at MCCS Tours and Kadena ITT.

Three of the island’s resort hotels are getting into the holiday illuminations and spirit.

Stardust Fantasia 2007-2008 is the theme for Kanucha Bay Hotel and Villas’ holiday illumination, a stunning blend of 100,000 lights and a 12 meters high Christmas tree poolside. Surrounding the tree, reindeer and stars dance together. Inside, the hotel’s restaurant offers a special Christmas dinner.

Stardust Fantasia runs through March 14th. Admission is ¥1,000 per group/car. Guests at the hotel view the illumination free. Kanucha Bay is located in northern Okinawa, across the bay from Camp Schwab.

Hotel Nikko Alivila has swathed its primary Christmas tree with soft, gentle candle colors. The illumination fills the patio, poolside and main entrance areas, offering a romantic setting for the holidays. Inside, “Glamorous Christmas” is the theme, complete with a real Christmas tree and a gold crest tree.

Live music wafts through the lobby as guests take in the festive holiday lights. Live music runs Friday through Christmas Day, while the illumination will remain on until March. Entry is free.

“Ocean Bright and a sweet smell” is the Renaissance Resort Hotel Okinawa’s holiday theme, featuring a 15 meter tall ocean tree in the Atrium Lobby. Also bathed in blue light illuminations will be a dolphin, while open spaces feature fairy tale stories, a house of sweets, chocolate, Christmas cake, a sweet house and sweet fantasy. The sweets are for guests, but the general public is invited to view the illumination through Christmas.

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