Kobe Luminarie Light Festival

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One of the best display of lights in entire Japan takes place in Kobe during Kobe Luminarie. The event is held every year from early to mid-December, during which the festival site is visited by more than three million people who come to enjoy the large, flamboyant light displays.

The luminaries began in 1995 to commemorate the Great Hanshin Earthquake that devastated the city of Kobe early in January 17, that year. The earthquake’s epicenter was located on the northern end of Awaji Island, 20 km away from the city of Kobe. Among the major cities affected by the earthquake, Kobe was the closest to the epicenter and hit by the strongest tremors. More than six thousand people lost their lives of which 4,600 of them were from Kobe alone.

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Photo credit: kobe.travel.coocan.jp

After the earthquake, essential utilities such as electricity, gas, and water were disrupted and Kobe was plunged into darkness for many days. Later that year, the city decided to put up lights as a symbol of hope, recovery, and renovation, and the Luminarie was born. A street leading from the Daimaru store in Motomachi to Higashi Yuenchi Park next to Kobe city hall was decorated with arches of multicoloured lights that were donated by the Italian government. Although the event was supposed to take place only once, strong popularity and demand from citizens encouraged the city to turn it into an annual event.

Over 200,000 individually hand painted lights are now lit each year. The lights are kept up for about two weeks and turned on for a few hours each evening. Major streets in the vicinity are closed to auto traffic during these hours to allow pedestrians to fill the streets and enjoy the lights. In the past, the lights were kept up during the entire month of December however, the cost of keeping it lit became too much forcing the city to reduce the number of days. Today, these lights are lit with electricity generated from environmentally friendly biomass gas.

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Photo credit: kobe.travel.coocan.jp

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Photo credit: kobe.travel.coocan.jp

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Photo credit: kobe.travel.coocan.jp

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Photo credit: kobe.travel.coocan.jp

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Photo credit: kobe.travel.coocan.jp

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Photo credit: Marufish/Flickr

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Photo credit: NIKONLOVE/Flickr

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Photo credit: calltheambulance/Flickr

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Photo credit: Hiroaki Kiba/Flickr

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Photo credit: lasta29/Flickr

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Photo credit: 8 Kome/Flickr

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Photo credit: 8 Kome/Flickr

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Photo credit: Bert Kimura/Flickr

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Photo credit: Hiroaki Kiba/Flickr

Sources: Wikipedia / www.ryuusenkaku.jp

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