In a normal year, it’s very easy to tell that December has come around by the unsolicited Christmas music blaring in stores immediately after Thanksgiving, peppermint and gingerbread-flavored coffee drinks hitting café menus, and the incredible work of dedicated homeowners who have spent hours stringing lights along awnings, trees, and front gates. The entire season brings a lot of nostalgia with it, and I’ve always enjoyed the family aspect of holidays. But because this is no normal year, I’ve had to search for holiday spirit outside the comfort of my family’s large, 20+ person gatherings.
Recently, I was able to reclaim some of that missing “Christmas spirit” (a staple phrase in any Christmas movie, by the way) by attending Tanaka Farms’ Hikari – A Festival of Lights. Hikari is a Japanese word meaning “light” in English. The title of this experience is appropriate, especially given how the intentionally and playfully lights are placed throughout the Tanaka Farms trail. The otherwise unsuspecting crops were lit with classic wintery motifs mixed in with Japanese-inspired installations – undoubtedly an homage to Tanaka Farms’ Japanese American history and ownership.
As I drove through the winter wonder-farmland, which is located in Irvine, California, I tuned into Tanaka Farms’ radio channel to listen to a specially curated Christmas playlist which would get occasionally interrupted by some fun facts about the farm. Throughout the various scenes, billboards were sprinkled in along the trail with tidbits about the farm, light installations, and story behind various elements. A Santa Claus towards the end of the trail really capped off the experience as a traditionally Christmasy character to emphasize the season.
After my journey through Hikari’s creative lighting, I found myself wanting more of the holiday experience. Luckily, they put together a quaint holiday market with Tanaka Farms-branded apparel and tree ornaments, locally sourced food products (including pastries, honey, and salsa), and other last-minute stocking stuffers.
I’ve tried listened to “All I Want for Christmas is You” on repeat, drunk too many cups of mediocre hot chocolate, and have watched more than enough Hallmark Christmas movies for one year, yet the holiday magic still evaded me. While our holidays will look differently this year, I’d highly recommend checking out Hikari and other festive light shows if you have a chance. In what has truly been a challenging year, it was nice to close out this dark chapter with a little bit of hikari.
Visit Tanaka Farms' Hikari through Sunday, January 10th
5380 3/4 University Dr.
Irvine CA, 12612