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Friday, Dec. 2, 2011

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Friday night lights: Karuizawa gets the holiday treatment on weekends this month.

Karuizawa resort makes winter special

Staff writer

Winters in Japan can get cold. The inland regions, in particular, are doused with a heavy blanket of snow every year. It can cause problems, but in the runup to the holidays it gives people exactly what they want: a white Christmas.

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From Dec. 3 till Dec. 25, Yagasaki Park in Karuizawa, the popular resort town in Nagano Prefecture, will host the first part of its Winter Festival. The second part occurs in February.

The opening ceremony will feature a brass-band performance of Christmas songs, in accordance with the event's festive theme, set against a backdrop of fireworks. There will also be a candle-lighting ceremony, which is being touted as a romantic highlight of the night.

During the festival, Yagasaki Park will be decorated with colorful lights; however this year the lights will only be turned on during weekends in December and February. This is in keeping with the general push toward saving electricity in the wake of the earthquake of March 11.

From February, the festival will take on a Valentine's Day theme for events such as a "Love Message Contest." The festival committee will collect messages for couples and family members during January. Selected applicants will then have their messages delivered on stage during that festival.

Every winter, people visit Karuizawa for its natural surroundings. The festival adds a little extra incentive to visit.

The Karuizawa Winter Festival takes place Dec. 3 till Feb. 14 at Yagasaki Park and several participating spots in Karuizawa, Nagano Prefecture. The park will be lit up on weekends in December and February. For more information (in Japanese), visit www.karuizawamonogatari.jp.

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