Photos courtesy of Nagasaki City
Photos courtesy of Nagasaki City

Nagasaki celebrates Chinese New Year with countless lanterns Jan. 24–Feb. 9

by Takahiro Takiguchi
Stripes Japan

While New Year is celebrated on Jan. 1 according to the solar calendar, in many regions of Japan, China and other asian countries, the new year is marked by the lunar calendar instead. This year, the Lunar New Year falls on Jan. 25.

To ring in the date, Nagasaki City will host the Nagasaki Lantern Festival from Jan. 24 through Feb. 9.

Head to the city’s Chinatown, no more than a two-hour drive from Sasebo Naval Base, for a feast for the eyes as the Hamacho District is illuminated with 15,000 Chinese lanterns.

“Visit the festival in the evening, and you sure will be overwhelmed by countless unique-shaped lanterns in full colors,” says Tomoko Tanaka of Stars and Stripes Sasebo District Office. The shapes of lanterns include oriental zodiacs, traditional Chinese buildings, people in history and imaginary animals, according to Tanaka.

In addition to the lanterns, many Chinese traditional performances like lion and dragon dances, live music and acrobatic shows are planned. Don’t miss the “Emperor’s Parade” on Feb. 1 and 8, where a Chinese Emperor, Empress and 150 subordinates in colorful traditional Chinese attire majestically march along the main street of the festival grounds.

There will be a plethora of food booths selling traditional foods as well, but don’t forget to stop in and try one of the great restaurants the Chinatown has to offer.

One million visitors are expected to visit the festival this year, the event organizer estimated. So, make plans, bundle up and head to Nagasaki for the cross-cultural event of the New Year!


Nagasaki Lantern Festival

Location: Shinchi Chinatown, Kankodori Street and Central Park in Nagasaki City, Nagasaki Pref.

Period: Jan 24 – Feb 9


Tel: 095-822-8888



  • Lighting-up Lantern Ceremony: Jan 25, 5:30 – 6 p.m. (Chinatown and Central Park)
  • Emperor Parading: Feb 1 and 8, 2 – 4:30 p.m. (From Central Park to Minato Park)
  • Traditional Chinese sailor’s parading: Jan 26, 1 – 4 p.m. (From Confucian Shrine to Central Park); Feb 2, 1:15 – 4 p.m. (From Central Park to Confucian Shrine)
  • Traditional Chinese lion dance: Jan 25, 26, 31, Feb 1, 2, 7, 8 and 9
  • Traditional Chinese dragon dance: every day throughout the festival period
  • Tour to four temples to make a New Year’s wish with candle: Jan 25 through Feb 7 (fee: 500 yen)
  • Tenshin Silk Road Performer’s Group (dances and songs): Jan 30, 31, Feb 1, 2 and 3  
  • Erhu (violin-like two-string instrument) performance: every day throughout the festival period
  • Lantern making class: Jan 26, 10 a.m. – 2:30 p.m., Feb 2, 10 a.m. - 1:30 p.m.
  • Chinese acrobatic show: every day throughout the festival period.

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