In Kobe, each year in December as the festive season approaches millions of people flock to the city to see the annual Luminarie festival. It’s a huge illuminated event that has been held in the city centre every year after the big earthquake that struck the city in 1995.
The Luminarie is very easy to find from Sannomiya station on both the Hankyu and JR lines. For the duration of the event you’ll see a lot of signs up to direct the throngs of people to the lights. You’ll know that you’re getting closer when you find the blocked off roads, because in the evenings while the Luminarie is on, the surrounding streets are completely blocked off to traffic, in order to make room for the vast number of pedestrians who’ve come to admire the display.
The crowds are something you need to be prepared for, as the Luminarie is so popular that the streets leading up to it and along the lit-up path will be jam packed, so don’t expect to rush through for a quick look! You need to allow plenty of time as you’ll only really be able to move with the crowd.
The Luminarie itself is beautiful! The lights are all rather high, so even with the large crowd, seeing everything isn’t a problem. The main display is a series of intricate arches that when you first arrive, you will see continuing off into the distance. As you walk down the line of arches they soon spread in both directions which, although it’s not specifically for Christmas, it still feels very Christmassy! After the road of arches, you will arrive at a big display with lights forming a wall and a beautiful little dome inside resembling a ballroom out in the open.
Also, alongside the lightshow, there are the usual festival stalls with game and food stalls to warm you up after you’ve spent a winter’s night marvelling at the lights!