Friday, December 10, 2010

Show Me Japan: Luminarie

December in Kobe means it's time for the Luminarie (神戸ルミナリエ), which is a festival of lights held every year since 1995. Originally the festival was enacted to commemorate the Hanshin - Awaji earthquake. The lights and the grand wooden structures that house them were donated by the Italian government after the quake.

The Lights are kept up for about two weeks and turned on for a few hours each evening. Each light is individually hand-painted and the scene is quite colorful (in photographs it is also stunning in B&W, however I will post color images in the coming days). Major streets in the vicinity are closed to traffic to allow pedestrians to stroll down the streets unimpeded, and enjoy the lights.

Luminarie will take place from December 2 through December 13. The starting time is at 18:00 during the week and 17:00 on the weekends. It ends at 21:30.

If you plan to visit, I suggest that you don't go at the beginning of the evening, as there will be many people waiting in long lines that wrap around the area. It is best to wait as late as possible, when fewer people will be there - unless you like long lines and shoulder to shoulder peoples.

At the end of the route, there are yatai food stalls where you can get lots of festival-type dishes, treats, games, and drinks. Toward the back of the final gathering area a tent is erected where people who experienced the earthquake share their stories and insights - well worth a visit if the mood strikes you!

Photograph is my entry for this weeks Show-me-Japan (Vol.1 Issue 4).


  1. It looks absolutely stunning - like something I'd expect to see on the side of a European cathedral. Please, I'd love to see it in color, too! :-)

  2. Hi Jonathan,
    When I used to live in Nara, I always wanted to go there but did not squeeze time then. Another excuse is, as you mentioned here, I am not so into crowded and popular place, hehe.
    Anyway, I am glad that you posted a stunning monochrome photo. Can't wait for the color photo to come up!!
    Thanks for sharing and have a wonderful weekend.

  3. Hi there!
    I went to Kobe in November.
    Kobe is my favorite city.
    Kobe Luminarie is an event worth watching once.
    I also would go to Kobe.
    Thank you for your wonderful entry!

  4. I've never seen lights done in B&W before. Nice idea.

  5. Thank you all for the comments, sorry for the late posting - I was out of town!