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Nara Tokae: Lantern Festival

  • Travel
Lanterns red and green

Tokae is a seasonal festival where you can see a mystical view of around 20000 lanterns!

The area illuminated have been expanding with new arts of the lanterns every year.

History of Tokae

The festival has been held in Nara city since 1999 to light up Nara. The numbers of the lanterns used to be around 10000, and are around 20000 now!

Tokae means light flower festival (To=light, ka=flower, e=festival) because the shape of the hollow around the burning wick and a candle’s melted remains sometimes resemble a flower, and it is said to be lucky when resembled.

Each candle is light up wishing the visitor’s happiness.


There are around 10 areas in Nara light up. All the areas are within walking distance.

Tokae is held for 10 days, and some of the areas such as Todaiji temple are light up for only a couple of days so it is better to check the official website for the dates and the areas before you go!

Entrance fee

No entrance fee needed. (Some of the venues require the fees)

There is an event called Ikkyaku Itto to experience lighting up a lantern. It costs JPY 500.

Ukimido area with the pond has boats to rent, it is around JPY 1000 for 30 mins. Recommended for couples!


7pm ~ 9:45pm, 5/Aug/2020 ~ 14/Aug/2020

Tokae would be canceled in case of heavy rain or unexpected circumstances.

How locals see Tokae

I join Tokae pretty much every year and it is becoming a larger event welcoming more tourists and locals.

We could feel the season of the summer through the event!