Kobe Luminarie is an annual illumination event held in December in Kobe to commemorate the Great Hanshin Earthquake of 1995, otherwise better known as Kobe Earthquake.
The 6.9 magnitude earthquake happened on 17 Jan 1995 and resulted in a death toll of 6000+, out of about 4600 were Kobe citizens. (Info source: Wikipedia)
Kobe Port Earthquake Memorial Park – An area of Meriken Park in Kobe which was struck by the 1995 Kobe Earthquake and has since been preserved in its damaged state.
December that same year marked the start of Kobe Luminarie. And every year since then, the roads closed for about 10 days in early December and luminarie arches are set up to welcome visitors around the world.
We visited Kobe in December 2007 as part of a larger 7-days Illumination Rail Trip, and Kobe Luminarie was easily our favourite illumination event during that trip. When we were there, it was hard to imagine the solemn symbolism of the event as the mood was jovial and celebratory.
In the evening, the roads were closed for the event and food stalls starting their operations for visitors who had arrived early.
Since there wasn’t much to do before the light were turned on, we checked out the row of food stalls and bought some snacks to keep ourselves occupied. We didn’t buy too much because, well, we were saving our stomach dinner – where we planned to eat what else but Kobe beef.
Near the starting time of the light-up, EVERYONE gathered excitedly at the starting point.
And to the cheers of the crowd, the arches lit up! The atmosphere during the moment where the lights came on was electrifying (pun intended). So I advise you go there early and be there to witness the switching on of the lights.
The darker the sky got, the more beautiful the illumination became.
This event was not for the faint-hearted. Or the pregnant. The crowd pushed through the arches and we were carried along until we reached the centrepiece.
It took a bit of squeezing around, but we managed to get inside the centre piece where we were surrounded by the beautiful lights!
And we just had to take a photo of ourselves in the middle of the centrepiece as been-here-done-that evidence!
Although it was crazy crowded, I truly enjoyed Kobe Luminarie. The lights were so beautiful and mesmerizing. I highly recommend visiting if you are in Kobe in early -mid December (please check exact dates as it differs from year to year).
Information on Kobe Luminarie
Date: Early – Mid December every year
Venue: Near Motomachi Station on the JR Line
Website: Kobe Luminarie’s official website (Japanese)
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