Monday night our family decided to brave the queue and head out to see the Kobe Luminarie. The kids were excited to put off doing homework and head downtown for an evening.
The Kobe Luminarie takes place every December and is a memorial to the loss suffered from the 1995 Great Hanshin Earthquake. Its purpose was to help bring a message of hope and rebuilding to the people of Kobe after that horrible tragedy.
Picture thousands of people standing in lines and moving like cattle being led out to pasture around several blocks of the city. Over 5 million people see this light show over 10 days. We were given the advice to go early as it could take hours to get through the queue to finally walk through the lights. (People will start lining up over an hour before the lights are actually turned on)
At certain points police officers will stop the crowd from moving to allow cars and other people to cross through the line.
The lights themselves are beautiful. Each light is hand painted and was a gift from the Italian government. They look like tiny ceramic tiles.
When you turn the corner towards the end of the queue literally hundreds of people are stopped taking photos of the lights. You have to push and maneuver yourself through the crowd to just get through. As you walk through the tunnel of lights you will hear music and a story of some sort being told in Japanese.
At the end of the tunnel is another lighting, this one just as beautiful as the tunnel of lights.
Near this light exhibit are bunches of food stalls and places to buy souvenirs. You can try many different foods, such as yakitori (meat on a stick), mochi (Japanese rice cake) or even grilled corn on the cob.
It was a nice outing as a family. To us it was just some pretty lights and yummy fair food. To many of the Japanese people, the Kobe Luminarie is something that is emotional and heartfelt, remembering one of Kobe's greatest tragedies.