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Tokyo may be trying to take the throne of “City of Lights” from Paris and we’ve seen some dazzling lights in Mie Prefecture, but inKansai, nothing says holiday spirit better than “Kobe Luminarie.” The light display is entering another year of brilliance, as it was originally a display to honor the victims of the Great Hanshin Earthquake of 1995, pray for the revival of the city, and reintroduce tourism into the region.

In an effort to save energy after the Tohoku Disaster in 2011, Kobe Luminarie changed their lightbulbs to LED lights. Smart move, right? You would think people would be happy with the economically and environmentally savvy improvement, but apparently the results were a little more sparkling than they’d hoped, in the bad way.

▼ Kobe Luminarie 2011

Kobe_Luminarie_2011_01sds  WikiMedia Commons

Besides the years directly following the Tohoku Disaster, Kobe Luminarie has bedecked streets and open spaces with about two hundred thousand lightbulbs (after the Tohoku disaster, they limited the lights to 20-40,000 bulbs). In addition, every year there is a decorative theme bringing the different exhibits together. This year, with the 20th anniversary of the Hanshin Earthquake upon us, designers chose to honor the original theme with “Kobe Dreams and Lights.” The designers envision the holiday illumination shining light on the dark and sad past― keeping the victims in our memories, while lighting the way for young generations to follow their dreams.

The theme of the illumination was never under scrutiny, but the lights themselves on the other hand, weren’t working out the way the designers planned. The switch to LED in 2011 made a big difference to the energy usage, but also the atmosphere of the display. Still some people enjoyed the LED light, especially the blue colored ones because “blue is the color of winter.” One observer claims that “it feels like the blue lights are bringing peace to the world.” Others liked the LED lights because they are bright and easily distinguishable.

▼ Kobe Luninarie 2013

Kobe_luminarie2_2013WikiMedia Commons

Not everyone is a fan of the LED lights however, in fact, it seems like most people weren’t. Some people claim that LED is too harsh and sharp. Illumination needs warmer lights, that bring about a feeling of coziness and comfort. LED just wasn’t cutting it for the people.

In response to their complaints, Kobe Luminarie has returned to good old incandescent lightbulbs this year. They checked with the Kansai Electric Power Company to make sure it would be okay and set out to make their display as warm and welcoming as it has been in the past.

The only obstacle now is money. There is worry that Kobe Luminarie won’t have enough money to support their exhibit and the costs of running the festival (paying for security guards, etc). While it has been free to view for the past 19 years, running on donations, starting next year they plan on charging visitors a whopping 100 yen (US$0.84).

It’s pretty safe to say that charging 100 yen isn’t going to steer anyone away from visiting though. What’s a measly coin when you get to see the fantastic displays that Kobe Luminarie has to offer? This year’s display is especially beautiful. Every year the displays are created in a collaboration between Japanese and Italian designers, so you’ll see the Italian influence with the designs and names ( i.e. Luminarie, is “lights” in Italian).

▼Frontone: It’s the fifth time this structure has been displayed since 1999 and it sure is as beautiful as ever.

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▼ Galleria: A tunnel-like collection of mounted lights that give the impression of waves moving― appropriate for this port city.

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▼ Suppariera: A giant structure shaped like a crown.

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▼ Cassa Armonica (sound box in Italian): The brilliance of the lights show the radiance of the past and future, echoing the memories of life.

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▼One visitor took a comprehensive time-lapse video of the lights.

Holiday lights are beautiful and a fun way to celebrate the season, but they are even more meaningful when honoring the memory of those lost in a tragedy. Kobe residents are happy about this year’s theme as it brings the sense of love and revival back to the city.

Source: Matome Naver
Top Image: ReTrip