Joe's Japan Travel Journal
by Joe, staff writer of japan-guide.com

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2014/12/15 - Seasonal Illumination: Kobe Luminarie 2014

The main entrance display of the Kobe Luminarie 2014 illumination

Winter nighttime illuminations have become a tradition throughout cities in Japan in the last few decades, and the tradition is thought to have started in 1995 with a special event in Kobe called the Kobe Luminarie. After the disastrous Great Hanshin Earthquake in January of 1995, which claimed 6000 lives and devastated the city of Kobe, artists Valerio Festi and Hirokazu Imaoka used hundreds of thousands of lights donated by the Italian government to create a one-time light display set up the centrally-located Higashi-yuenchi Park. The display was meant to serve as a memorial for the city's victims and to inspire hope in rebuilding and moving on.

The original display was so well-received, it has been continued annually ever since and continues to draw more than 3 million people to the city ever December. The display is held during the first half of December, and features 2-to-3-storey, intricately-designed, handmade wooden structures covered in symmetrically-arranged patterns of colorful lights. Thanks to its reputation as one of Japan's most preeminent illuminations, the crowds can be intense, queuing up in line that snakes around several city blocks before being able to see the lit facade at the entrance of the display. The line moves at a fairly brisk pace, however, and once inside the exhibition, don't seem to mar the wondrous atmosphere.

The 2014 Kobe Luminarie was from December 4 through December 15, and has just finished for this year. The next opportunity to enjoy the festival will be next year in 2015.

Tunnel of lights
Huge crowds slowly funneling through the streets and taking in the kaleidoscopic displays
Despite police announcements to keep moving, no one could resist stopping and taking photos
The front entrance facade and the light tunnel leading beyond
The intricately detailed archways covered four city blocks leading up to Higashi-yuenchi Park
The breathtaking main cathedral-like structure was the centerpiece of the illumination, dominating Higashi-yuenchi Park
A small pavilion at the center of the light cathedral
The scale and intricacy of the structures was incredible
Digging the digs
All of the hundreds of thousands of lights in this display are purportedly hand-painted
Food stalls selling local specialties and festival favorites were set up around the park's periphery
Several vendors were peddling beef skewers that, despite not being certified Kobe Beef, were hugely popular (and delicious)

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List of Posts:
2017/12/31 - Travel Highlights 2017
2016/12/31 - Travel Highlights 2016
2016/03/24 - Setouchi Triennale 2016
2015/12/31 - Travel Highlights 2015
2015/12/04 - Autumn Color Report: Kyoto
2015/12/03 - Autumn Color Report: Tokyo
2015/11/19 - Autumn Color Report: Tokyo
2015/11/18 - Autumn Color Report: Mount Mitake
2015/11/16 - Autumn Color Report: Mount Takao
2015/11/12 - Autumn Color Report: Tokyo
2015/11/11 - Autumn Color Report: Fukuroda Falls
2015/10/30 - Autumn Color Report: Kyoto
2015/10/26 - Autumn Color Report: Bandai
2015/10/22 - Autumn Color Report: Northern Alps
2015/10/21 - Autumn Color Report: Northern Alps
2015/10/20 - Autumn Color Report: Mount Fuji
2015/10/15 - Autumn Color Report: Hachimantai
2015/10/14 - Autumn Color Report: Towada
2015/10/13 - Autumn Color Report: Hakkoda
2015/10/08 - Autumn Color Report: Nasu
2015/10/06 - Autumn Color Report: Nikko
2015/04/14 - Cherry Blossoms 2015: Yoshino
2015/04/13 - Cherry Blossoms 2015: Miharu
2015/04/08 - Cherry Blossoms 2015: Matsumoto Report
2015/01/29 - Crabs, Peonies and Castle Cruises in Shimane

2014/12/31 - Travel Highlights 2014
2014/12/16 - Seasonal Illumination: Osaka
2014/12/15 - Seasonal Illumination: Kobe Luminarie 2014
2014/12/09 - Seasonal Illumination: Ashikaga Flower Park
2014/12/05 - Autumn Color Report: Tokyo
2014/11/28 - Autumn Color Report: Kyoto
2014/11/26 - Autumn Color Report: Nara
2014/11/25 - Autumn Color Report: Kyoto
2014/11/18 - Autumn Color Report: Tokyo
2014/11/13 - Autumn Color Report: Tokyo
2014/11/07 - Autumn Color Report: Tokyo
2014/11/04 - Autumn Color Report: Hakone
2014/10/29 - Autumn Color Report: Shima Onsen
2014/10/21 - Autumn Color Report: Nikko
2014/10/16 - Autumn Color Report: Alpine Route
2014/10/08 - Autumn Color Report: Nasu
2014/10/07 - Autumn Color Report: Nikko
2014/09/26 - Autumn Color Report: Nikko
2014/08/20 - Kusatsu Onsen Beautification