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Kobe Luminarie: The Festival of Light in Japan

Updated on December 10, 2014

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The Kobe Luminarie is an event that held in the winter season, each year for 12 days from earlier in December. The event usually located in the Old Foreign Settlement and Higashi-yuenchi Park, part of Chuo-ku, Southern Kobe which is related with Hanshin Railway. "Luminarie" actually is derived from the Italian language by the word of "luminaria" of which it is symbolized "light" using candle inside small paper lantern or small light bulbs inside of plastic bag or plastic bottle. The "Kobe Luminarie Lights" festival seriously isn't precisely some kind of Christmas ceremony that related with some illumination events. Actually, the "Festival of Lights" in Kobe is held as a memorial to the Hanshin earthquake that ever happened in 1995 which has killed more than 6000 lives and destroyed the city of Kobe. Even though that is such a devastating tragedy, somehow Kobe eventually able to re-built on its own and can stand strong now.

One of many major cities and also well knew in Japan is the city of Kobe. When the earthquake happens, Kobe is very close to the earthquake epicenter. Therefore, the city became one of the cities that suffered a lot of damage. There are many infrastructures have been destroyed and many lives who has been missing. Therefore, in order to cover the disasters in Kobe, a tribute to the thousands of people who have killed due to the Kobe earthquake has been held. It also gives hope to the people who survived. The tribute called Kobe Luminarie or the "Festival of Lights". Kobe luminaire is held every year in the month of December. After the earthquake that occurred in 1995, the electricity of Kobe has been disconnected and that makes the city of Kobe does not have lights and stay in darkness, and so the first event of Festival of Lights was held and was supposed to glow the city and also to give citizens of Kobe "hope" of which Kobe actually can be restored and can standing strong. So, since 1995 and around 14 days, every December in Kobe, the city turns into a brilliant festival of lights or it is also called "Luminarie".


The idea was commenced 11 months following the Kobe earthquake that happened in 1995 with the expectation to entertain and giving courage and tremendously inspires people in Kobe. Mainly because there seemed to be a strong need to continue to live and move on from the people who have experienced the disaster. The festival of lights then grew and becomes a great once-a-year event. Each year, more than 4 million visitors visit the "Luminarie" or the festival of lights that held in Kobe. These lights have been donated by the Italian government. The lights decorations were produced by Valerio Festi, an Italian designer and Hirokazu Imaoka, a native Kobe citizen. Every bulb of lights itself has been hand-painted. Nevertheless the "Luminarie" definitely not supposed to become a great annual event. But, the Festival of Light proven to become famous, people who have visited Kobe and watch the event really love it. Because of the event popularity, Festival of Lights finally held every year since the first event. About 200,000 electric bulbs are uses for this annual "once-a-year" event in order to commemorate the victims of the earthquake that ever happens in Kobe. Now the locals and many people from around the world came to Kobe each year around December where the festival of lights is being held.

Kobe Luminarie 2010
Kobe Luminarie 2010 | Source
Kobe plates
Kobe plates | Source

Earthquake in Kobe

The earthquake that happened in Kobe around 1995 resulted 6.425 people dead, around 30.000 people injured and 300.000 people are displaced, more than 100.000 buildings were damaged and destroyed. Even, this catastrophe inflicts a financial loss at least $132 billion worth from all the damages, and it is about 2.5 of percentage from the national income. Makes it the most expensive natural disaster of all time. The earthquake itself was measured having a magnitude of 7.2 richter scale as well as ended up being the most significant disaster in the history of Japan disasters. Researchers said, the epicenter ended up in 15 miles (24km) below the island of Awajisima and 20 miles (32km) from the city of Kobe.

Many people were having traumatized and feared to death after the earthquake that happened in Kobe on 1995 as well as thousands of people getting injured. Many people were stuck beneath the rubble of flattened houses and buildings. Although damaged gasoline flows and water plumbing are hampering the rescue that tried to attempt, hundreds of people try to going out, sitting on the street and wrapping their body with blanket because they are afraid to enter their home in the case more earthquakes will happen. Eyewitnesses explained, the horrifying earthquake lasted for approximately 20 seconds and it ended up with several after-shocks. Japan is one of the earths most earthquake-prone and used to experience a large number of small tremors that happen every year. Even so, the Kobe earthquake ended up being one of the worst earthquakes that ever happened in Japan.


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