Under Gates of Hope: Kobe Luminarie 2013

Yesterday, N J and I took a break from all of the reading, writing, and cleaning to pop off to Kobe, a two-hour train ride from upper Kyoto. Kobe is a huge port city, and reminds me a lot of cities like Seattle or San Francisco. The terrible Hanshin Earthquake of 1995 raised most of the metropolis (causing over $100 billion in damage and killing roughly 6,000 people), so almost all of the city is new, and quite modern/western in its architecture.

The purpose of our visit was to go and see Kobe Luminarie, a huge festival of light which is meant to honor the victims of the Hanshin Earthquake. We went a couple of years ago with our friend Erin, but I was hoping to go back and get some better pictures.

The installment was donated by the Italian government, who had been moved by the idea of the original Luminarie. The first festival, which was meant to be a message of hope in a time of figurative and literal darkness (there were electricity rations after the quake), was so inspiring that the people of Kobe decided, after a meeting in 1996, to make it a yearly event. The installment is reminiscent of the Baroque period, the lights are all hand-painted, and the electricity is for the event is produced through biomass fuels, keeping the entire festival eco-friendly.

Every year, the festival attracts million of visitors, but Luminarie has been showing a steady decline in tourists, dropping from almost 5,400,000 to 3,400,000 last year. I don’t know how many people went last night, but I wouldn’t be surprised if the event has seen another drop. There was a lot more space to move around than when I went in 2010.

Unfortunately, despite my intentions, I didn’t actually get many high-quality photos this time around because my camera wasn’t charged (d’oh!), so I’ll include my iPhone photos, and some of my older photos from 2010 as well.

The festival only lasts for a couple of weeks, so if you are in Japan and near the Kansai reason, Sannomiya in Kobe is a great place to check out right now!

10 thoughts on “Under Gates of Hope: Kobe Luminarie 2013

    1. Thanks so much Miranda. The structures are really something. I don’t often go to events more than once (in a lifetime), but this one always compels me a little. This year it just finally worked out that I could go again. 🙂


    1. Thanks Andrew!

      I actually tried to buy an extra battery once for this camera. Turned out it was the wrong model. I should probably try again, but camera batteries are so expensive, haha.


  1. Great photos!! Would you mind if I used a couple for our Seattle-Kobe Sister City Association shinenkai announcement? Just wanting to add a bit of seasonal Kobe flavor to our event info. I’ll be happy to credit the photos to you, of course.


    1. Of course! Feel free. I have higher quality versions on my Flickr account (you can access it through my side bar). ☺

      Thanks for the comment!!


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