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The Kobe Luminaire. A memory from an earthquake

Sunday, January 28, 2024

A crow gathers beneath a light display at night.

Took a trip downtown tonight to visit the Kobe Luminarie. It's a light display each year to commemorate the Great Hanshin Earthquake and its devastating impact.

Kobe experienced prolonged power cuts, which meant survivors lived in darkness during the long winter. The illuminations were seen as a symbol of recovery and rebuilding. While they were only meant to happen once, they've become a traditional event.

Because of COVID, they had a break for a couple of years, but now they're back and the streets are rammed with people eager to enjoy the sights once more.

The format is simple:

At a few points around the sprawling center, light installations are erected which are turned on for a couple of hours after sunset. You then spend a pleasant evening wandering from display to display, enjoying the view and popping a few coins in the odd collection tin here and there.

A tree like light display, yellow in color with bands of purple and greens

The main displays are at Meriken Park near Harborland and Kancho Park on Flower Road. Between them are smaller displays here and there, and it's a bit of fun when you blunder into one unexpectedly.

Everything is free to look at, although you need to pay for a ticket to go inside the main display in Meriken Park. Frankly, it is worth it, not only for the spectacle but also for helping to fund the event.

The Italian Government donated the light displays, and Italian Craftsmen still help erect them.

Then, at 9:30pm, bells chime and the lights go out. Which is oddly satisfying.

This is my first time visiting the Luminaire, and I thoroughly enjoyed it. Now I understand the history behind it, I appreciate it even more.

My name is Ross Hori

I'm a freelance writer, designer and photographer. By day I create articles, features and reports. At night I take photos and write fiction.

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