For the past 9 years, an annual illumination competition has ranked the best light displays across Japan. For 2021, the Okinawa Tropical Illuminations at Southeast Botanical Garden came in third place (up from 7th place the year prior), giving some indication as to the quality of the event.
This year's iteration of the event includes a fun Pokémon-themed illumination area, and lotus-shaped lights designed to replicate the real thing that visitors can see at the gardens during summer.
Other highlights include a tropical-inspired Christmas tree decorated with butterflies and flowers, the marine-themed Hikari no Umi (sea of light) section, and the Castle of Light which looks fit for royalty.
The Southeast Botanical Gardens are located a short drive from the Okinawa Kita IC on the Okinawa Expressway. On-site parking is available for up to 350 vehicles.
For those visiting the area via public transport, take bus # 90 from the Naha Bus Terminal until you reach the Okinawashi Nomin Kenshu center-mae stop. The gardens are located on the other side of the expressway from the bus stop, about a five minute cab ride away.