December 6, 2008

Kobe Luminarie - 2008

On Saturday night, we headed into Kobe with a bunch of friends. Before going out for dinner, we wanted to check out Kobe Luminarie 2008, a massive light festival that is put up every holiday season since 1995. (It began to commemorate the Great Hanshin-Awaji Earthquake of 1995.) Popular from the start, it is now viewed by something like 5 million people/year during the two weeks it is on display. And on Saturday night of the weekend the light display opened, the people (and their keitai cameras) were out in full force!

And with good reason. The lights (apparently hand-painted from Italy) were very beautiful. They were arranged as a grand archway, a long covered hallway, and - at the end - a gigantic cathedral.

In order to walk through the light display, you have to walk down a winding path of city streets. Basically a number of parallel streets near Motomachi are closed to traffic and the streets themselves become a winding back-and-forth amusement park-style line. The "line" moved at a pretty good pace though. There were tons of (largely unnecessary) workers, holding signs, directing people with megaphones (also unnecessarily, since the instructions were things like "walk slowly" and "don't stop to take pictures"), and stopping the thousands of the pedestrians in line at various intersections so other pedestrian traffic (usually five or six people) could walk across the street. But the line moved pretty fast, and despite the cold, it was really nice to be taking a little night stroll through the high-rent shopping district of Kobe. With thousands upon thousand of others!

In fact, we would have to say that the most interesting part was actually the walking to get there. Although the crowds were huge, it was pin-drop quiet. Seriously. And everyone was walking in the same direction. No pushing, no cutting, not a peep. It was almost disconcertingly orderly. Ah Japan! It really was an amazing and very peaceful experience.

Here are some parting shots of some of our Saturday evening posse, with the light cathedral in the background behind us:


jmgesq said...

That is amazing looking. WOW! Tho I'm not sure I really like that degree of orderliness and quiet. It sounds a bit eerie. I guess the orderliness of Japan would get to me after a while. As Jack can tell you, I do like a good bit of disorder in fact AND I think disorder leads to greater creativity. Just MHO.

Alexis Jacobs said...

How beautiful!