[Kobe, Japan] Kobe Luminarie - Illumination Festival to Commemorate 1995 Earthquake (Every year, around December 1-12)
The Kobe Earthquake of 1995 devastated the city and more than 6000 people died. Many parts of the city had to be rebuilt as a result of the earthquake.
The Italian government donated all of these handpainted lights to the citizens of Kobe to bring hope to the city.
Millions come to Kobe to see this display and it is really spectacular. I apologize for the low-quality shots, I had to use my old Korean phone because I forgot to bring my regular camera with me to work.
The display changes each year.
Around the major light display, there is a mini market. You can get Kobe commemorative merchandise, products from the area, and other items. There is also a large area that serves Japanese street food stands, similar to what you can find at temples during high festivals.
The entrance is free, but you can donate money and receive a commemorative card or buy the merchandise.
Location:Around Sannomiya and Motomachi.
If you come from the Motomachi side, you will enter through the Grand Entrance Gate (below). This area is extremely crowded, hundreds of people packed in a narrow shopping arcade.
My friends and I met near Sannomiya and went in the other side of the display. They had lived in Kobe a long time and knew this was a way to avoid major crowds.
I had been riding past the Luminarie for about a week because of a conference. The crowds varied throughout the week. I would say the weekends are the craziest, obviously. We went on Thursday around 7 and it was not too crowded yet. I would say, if your schedule is flexible, to try and visit on Wednesday or Thursday.
Have you been to the Kobe Luminarie? Got any tips? Leave a comment below.