Kobe Luminarie 2014

About two weeks ago, I ventured out on a weeknight to the annual Kobe Luminarie light festival.

A detail from one of the the installations

A detail from one of the the installations

In the early morning hours of January 17th, 1995, the Great Hanshin Earthquake struck the Kansai region, leaving over 6000 people dead. Kobe was the closest city to the epicenter, and over 4000 of the victims were the city’s residents. As a gesture of goodwill, the Italian government donated over 200,000 hand-painted lights both as a memorial for the dead, and as a symbol of hope for the survivors. In December of that year, the first Luminarie festival was held. Due to popular demand, it has continued every year since then.

An incredible crowd, even on a chilly weeknight

An incredible crowd, even on a chilly weeknight

Japanese light festivals are always beautiful, and this one was no exception. Because it still is considered a memorial, there was no entrance fee, and the crowds showed up in force. I got to experience Japanese efficiency firsthand from this one event — ridiculous though the crowds were, the lines were always moving, which made it much more bearable. There were regular stops controlled by the police to reduce congestion (like subway trains!), and we were asked to follow a winding route before arriving at the festival site.

The walking route, as seen on the official Japanese website

The walking route, as seen on the official Japanese website

Stop. Aaaand go!

Stop. Aaaand go!

We're getting closer!

We’re getting closer!

Eventually, everyone turned around a corner, and then suddenly in front of us, a very beautiful light tunnel appeared…

Stunning

Stunning!

A closer look at the tunnel effect

A closer look at the tunnel

Reflections

Reflections

Another detail shot

Another detail shot

Once we had passed through the tunnel, we came to a park with three large light installations already set up and glowing festively.

The main installation, as seen from the park across the street

The main installation, as seen from across the street

A panorama showing the entire main installation

A panorama showing the entire main installation

A full-length view of the installation

A full-length view of the installation

The crowd gathered around and inside the installation

The crowd gathered around and inside the installation

Another detail shot

Another detail shot

The center of the installation. The crowd was too crazy so I didn't venture any closer...

The center of the installation. The crowd was too crazy so I didn’t venture any closer…

The second of the three installations. It had a bell you could ring after making a wish.

The second of the three installations. It had a bell you could ring after making a wish.

The last of the three installations

The last of the three installations

Of course, it wouldn’t be a proper Japanese festival without some food stalls set up along the perimeter.

Foooood~

Foooood~

 

In addition to the regular offerings (fried chicken, corn on the cob, sausages on sticks, candied fruit, castella cakes), there was a very popular stall selling Kobe beef on a stick. Well, I guess I shouldn’t have been surprised… At Β₯500 for one fresh-off-the-grill stick, I couldn’t resist!

One of my favourite pictures from this outing

One of my favourite pictures from this outing

It was done medium-rare, and was oh-so-good and filling! Yum~

It was done medium-rare, and was oh-so-good and filling! Yum~

The Kobe Luminarie festival has finished for 2014, but if you are around the Kansai area next year, it’s worth checking out!

I’m currently updating this from the lovely (and warm) city of Singapore! I’ll be here until the new year, so keep an eye out for pictures from this trip in the next posts. Until then, happy holidays!

 

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