The Kobe Luminarie light festival is held in Kobe city every December over 12 days. It’s been held since 1995 and commemorates the great Hanshin earthquake of that year which struck Kobe. The elaborate light display features thousands of hand-painted lights and attracts millions of viewers each year.
Every year, a theme is chosen for the display, last year being Hope and this year representing Kizuna(bonds between people), standing for solidarity, fraternity and unity. Posters promoting this event are everywhere, so we couldn’t miss it!
We arrived at Sannomiya station at around 5.30pm. The illuminations don’t start until 6pm each evening but a considerable crowd had already amassed. To cope with this huge influx in pedestrians, a number of streets in downtown Kobe are closed to cars during the evenings in question, and a strict one way system is applied to visitors coming to and from the illuminations.
Luckily, I think we went on what passes for a quiet night at an event like this, the queue route took about 15 minutes to walk down, taking us all around downtown Kobe on a very cold winter evening! Eventually though, we turned a corner and saw this…
This normal shopping street had been transformed into a huge illuminated archway, I was fully expecting the posters I’d seen to not live up to the hype,. but wow – this was something else!
The illuminations stretched from Old Foreign Settlement to Higashi-yuenchi Park, where a large four walled illuminated area awaited. It was a great spot to hang around, and everyone was taking the opportunity to get photos.
The lights were ridiculously bright, it was almost like day in there! The central dome structure was for people to throw donations in, and had hanging bells you could try to strike with your well-aimed coins – I failed miserably!
As well as the great lights, the park was full of food stalls, my favourite! Oknomiyaki, katsu, soba, the lot! I gave omusoba a try, and it was delicious! We stayed in this area for quite a while as the heat from the cooking made it a good deal warmer. Loads more pics in the gallery below!
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The illuminations are on until Monday 17 December this year, there’s a suggested donation of ¥100 per person, it’s more than worth it.