Saturday, December 18, 2010

To keep memories alive - Kobe Luminarie 2011, lights of hope -

It is very cold these days. Nonetheless, I love this time of year and the excitement in the air especially when I go back to my hometown, Kobe.  At the beginning of December, I went to Kobe Luminarie on my way back from my routine visit to my mother.  I felt compelled to write about "something behind its brilliance", but regretably I was not with my camera and had no time to return there till its last day 13th. These images are from the website. 

Kobe Luminarie, 2008 from wikipedia

 Kobe Luminaire started in December, 1995, the year when Great Hanshin Earthquake devastated Kobe in January, as a memorial service to the victims of the earthquake and to encourage Kobe people with the same level of brilliance as the magnitude of the earthquake or the intensity of so much death and destruction.  The fact is being forgotten under the increasing tourism.  For many of Japanese people, the memory of that earthquake might have faded, but in the mind of Kobe people who were deeply affected, it is an unforgettable incident.  Pictures of damages and lessons (in Japanese)

Listening to requiems which fill the air, my thoughts wandered between memories and anticipation.  On that day, TV news repeatedly showed collapsed highways and buildings, the desperate searching for families, friends, or neighbors under the rubbles ....  the same old scenes in the big scale earthquakes.   Fires were terrible: I was watching at the burning Kobe under the hazy shade of winter helplessly.  Without any warnings, people had long thought Kobe was in earthquake-free region and were almost completely unprepared.  Who imagined such a modern city Kobe could collapse so easily?

In human history, wars, terrorism, not to mention natural disasters, have killed many people, shattered communities and livelihoods.  Each time, people cleared up the mess, counted losses and went on with their lives.  People can do great comeback when we look at the same direction and work together despite our different beliefs, ideas, and thoughts. Kobe has revitalized already, though something is completely lost.

Kobe Luminarie, 2002

Design and theme change from year to year:  this year’s theme was  "Il cuore nella luce", or 光の心情.  What would you say in English?

photo from my son's wedding album

It’s been a fast year.  I have an impression that every year passes faster than the one before. 
One of the nicest things this year is arrival of my first grandchild: being grandmother is really a blessing.  I look forward to watch her grow and develop personality.  Another is heartfelt interaction with new blog friends of different countries as well as with familiar friends.  I’m grateful to each of you for taking time to read or to leave a comment.

Wishing you peace, hope, and love this holiday season and a new year.
With warmest thoughts and best wishes. 

Yoko alias stardust


  1. I am forgetting that catastrophe. After that, we went to help relatives or friends in kobe walking on the train rails. I heard from my daughter's tutor that when he went his graduated high-school, many coffins were lying in the gym. Time flies. Now Nankai-jisin is whispered. Can I make that lesson?
    By the way, this year was a good year for you. Congratulation, a pretty baby!

  2. Although for the residents I was just an outsider, the disaster is unforgettable for me. A reader of tanka group evacuated because of half-collapsed house, and she read and wrote on an apple box, slept on a pillow of her rucksack in a city hall.

    My husband and I like Kobe very much. When we payed a visit Luminarie, they rose cheers at the moment of starting illuminations.
    The cheers sounded as if they are consoled by the warm lightnings.

    Thank you for many throughout this year.
    Have a good time with your family including a new member.

  3. I visited the lovely city of Kobe in 1986 as a member of Friendship Force, a group of US citizens on a Peace mission, led by a Senator. We first visited China, then Hong Kong, and finally toured Japan. I loved meeting the hospitable people of your country. When tragedies such as the earthquake are over, people show their resilience and resolve. But, as you say, even thought the city is rebuilt, something important is forever lost. Your year is ending on a promising note - the birth of a Grandchild is such a wonderful gift! Your life will be forever changed now in positive ways as you interact with the little one. I enjoyed scrolling through the photos you've added to your sidebar!

  4. Even in that chaos, sufferes were remembered highly as they kept order and worked together cooperatively.
    My elder daughter was living in Rokkou then as a university student.She barely came home the following day. Some days later, my family entered the devastated area to clear up her room. We saw lots of debris and tilted houses all around and things were what bombimg might've been like. Then some volunteer group members offered us hot soup on the street.

    Yesterday's newpaper reported newly 25 name plates were added on the wall of the monument since the city extended the casualties outside the city. One mother of a young casualty quoted as saying " It's about time to do so, so as not to let the memory of her and the catastrophe fade away"

  5. Hi Stardust.
    Time flies....15 years have passed since the Great Hanshin Earth quake occurred.
    However, the event of the earthquake is unforgettable. It is sad that the memory of the earthquake might have faded.
    My cousin’s family lives in Kobe. They had to spend many days in a city hall after-math because of collapsed their house. One more thing I want to add is that my mother in law, who lived in Kobe after her marriage during the Second War, often says to me that the big fire in Kobe caused by the Hanshin Earthquake was disastrous. The scene of the fire on TV news brought her a sad old memory of the air raid in Kobe. Hearing her story, it is really understandable for me how the earthquake was catastrophic.
    However, Stardust, I really admire that your home town, Kobe has rarely has bounced back to an active and beautiful town, though people lost something.
    *Red rose*

  6. The galaxy is elegant decorations.
    The joy of people may be the climax.

    The end of the year in Nara may have a tasteful atmosphere...
    It is Japan itself.

    Thank you.

  7. Thank you, Friends, for the comments.

    I wanted to explain Kobe Luminarie was not intended as Christmas illumination and to tell something behind it especially to those who don’t know it.

    " It's about time to do so, so as not to let the memory of her and the catastrophe fade away."
    Yes, I felt strong sentiment and movement not to let the memory of the earthquake fade with time. For example, this year, live talks of personal experience was held at that place.

    I wish you all happy, warm and relaxing time.

  8. I remenber the earthquake very well as my aunt lived in Nishinomiya. We rushed to her place. Her house suffered a minor damage, broken glass and broken roof tiles. She was lucky however she was terribly scared. I saw completely destroyed houses in her neighborhood. Later I got to know it was owing to the faults, not well-known big ones but the small ones. Since then I have told my son to go to a big library and ckeck all the faults before moving.
    I also remember after the disaster, very soon many volunteers gathered to help the people all over Japan.They did what they could. I will not forget all of these scenes too.

    Have a Happy New Year and Enjoy Grandmotherhood!

  9. Happy new 2011!

  10. Happy New Year.
    It be full health and happiness.


    Thank you.

  11. I have been away from blogging, am glad I came by today. Such wonderful news, that your son and his wife have given you a grandchild, you are now on a wonderful journey, Yoko. I treasure my grandchildren.

    Your lovely memorial post of the Great Hanshin Earthquake was a fine tribute. I visited the links to see the terrible destruction that was experienced.

    Have a good year with the new grandchild.


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