Kobe Luminarie, Kobe
The Kobe Luminarie is not just one of Japan's illuminations; it's the first and original illumination in Japan. Unlike other illuminations that are only meant to look pretty, the Kobe Luminarie has real meaning and significance; it originally started in the 90s after the Great Hanshin Earthquake devastated the city. It's purpose was to provide some joy to the citizens who were depressed and downtrodden. It has since become a tradition in Kobe and the illuminations are definitely Japan's most impressive.
Although the illuminations run from 6pm to 9 on weekdays (later on Fri., Sat., and Sun.), you will want to arrive at least an hour before the closing time, because you cannot go directly to the illuminations. The streets are blocked off and a path has been created to take you to them. The path itself is somewhat long but it can take 30 minutes or even longer to reach the first illumination due to the hords of people, many of which walk at a slower pace than necessary.
Once you reach the illuminations though, the wait and annoyance of the crowd no longer matter and you can just stand in awe of its size and beauty! There are a few spots containing illuminations and a lot of food vendors. If you're hungry, shop around because there are a lot of different foods!
The illuminations run from December 1 to 12. In the past they went until Christmas, but in order to conserve energy and cut costs it is now less than two weeks long.
It is technically free to come and see the lights however, they request donations of at least 100 yen which is very reasonable and allows them to continue the tradition. The donation boxes are throughout the illuminations so you don't have to stop at the first ones which are the most crowded. Keep walking and you can donate quickly later.
Directions: The path to the illuminations is closest to Sannomiya Station.
If you visit Kobe around Christmas time then don't miss out on the illumination. The illumination is thousands of blue and white xmas lights that surround the streets of kobe. Quite beautiful and an excellent place to bring your miss' on a date.
But be prepared to wait in a line for up to an hour, buddle up cause Kobe can get pretty cold in winter time.
Kobe has many other spots of interest such as Oji Zoo, sake breweries in Nada, Suma Aqualife Park, Arboretum, the Nunobiki Waterfalls, Fishing Parks, and Goshikizuka Kofun (an ancient burial tomb). Kobe is also a city which is actively engaged in large-scale events, with the Kobe Festival and the Kobe Luminarie being the yearly highlights. 'Kobe Luminarie,' originally held as a requiem for the victims of the Great Hanshin-Awaji Earthquake as well as a symbol of dreams and hopes for the city's restoration and renaissance, is held in December every year.
If you visit Kobe during Christmas season, Luminarie is a must to see!!!
Luminarie originally came from Italy. It is an art of light. Beautiful illuminations with millions of lights dispalyed in the center of the city. It has started in 1995 to cheer up the poeple who suffered from the terrible earthquake occured in Kobe.