Monday, January 6, 2014

The New Year lights at the Former Foreign Settlement of Kobe

Hello, my dear Friends, and the new visitors from the world! 
I wish your 2014 be peaceful, healthy, and fulfilling.  

Every year when the New Year holiday is over, I’d like to lose weight I gained from many irresistible foods over the years.  Leaving my mom's home on my routine visit, I decided to walk around my favorite area of Kobe, the Former Foreign Settlement, and then to do some shopping.  Most shops start winter clearances on January 4th, and some begin even sooner. 

Front entrance on Tor Road
Since my childhood, it was Daimaru Department Store (Daimaru-Matsuzakaya now) that my family and I used to go on shopping.  Daimaru is located in the corner of the Former Foreign Settlement.

外国人居留地 The Foreign Settlement refers to a special area in treaty ports, designated by the Japanese government in the second half of the nineteenth century, to allow foreigners to live and work. Japan at that time was in the process of changing itself from a closed, feudalistic society to a more open, modern state.” according to the Wikipedia.

North side of Daimaru-Matsuzakaya

East side
The architectural beauty of Daimaru is both classic and modern and nicely fits to the surroundings. Cloisters and lamp-posts which surround the structure make people easier to imagine the atmosphere of the time of the Former Foreign Settlement.

East side

South side of No.38 Building
The Former Foreign Settlement No. 38 building used to be the Kobe Branch of National City Bank designed by William Merrell Vories.  It was reinforced and renovated and is owned by Daimaru now.

Daimaru actively invited brand shops to open their branches in other buildings in the Former Foreign Settlemnt to draw more customers. In April, 2013, Hermes shop was moved to this part of building.

East side of No. 38 Building

The street stretching east to west on the sea side of Daimaru has been known as “Luminarie street” since 1996.  It is one of the most fashionable streets with many famous brand shops.  I'm not interested in brand clothes or goods but in taking pictures of these  interestingly illuminated buildings.

BEAMS House in the daytime

Genius Gallery
The talk about the Former Foreign Settlement of Kobe is to be continued with more details ... perhaps in the next post.

While I was staring at the city lights in the dark from the window of the straight train to Nara from Sannomiya, kobe, I got into the somber and reflective mood.  Apart from those brilliance, wealth, and warmth despite the coldness of winter, I held my breath when I turned my eyes toward the world of misery: thousands of the devastating typhoon survivors at Tacloban, the Philippines, appalling brutality in bitter and bloody conflicts and the children who witnessed those horrors, and the ongoing misery of the Tohoku, Japan, caused by the nuclear accident, to name a few.  And then, I thought the illuminations of revitalized Kobe show human miracles which have overcome and revived from the shattered community of the 1995 Great Hanshin Earthquake.  I hope a promising New Year with things getting better and better to those who have struggled to survive.


  1. A beautiful and touching post.

    Some of the architecture in the Foreign Settlement reminds me of parts of Manhattan.
    I like all the lights which give it more atmosphere.

    I wish you a Happy 2014 and I share with you the wish for a better year to help so many survive the harsh realities of life in so many places. Hugs. xx

  2. 新年の最初の神戸のポストはやっぱり、yokoさんだと思いました。大阪とは又違う雰囲気で異国情緒が溢れていますね。お正月にいくら食べても大丈夫!体重減らす必要なんてありませんよ。今年もポチポチとブログ続けて行くつもりです。本年もよろしくね。

  3. A lovely nightly walk...
    All the best for you in 2014... Enjoy this new year !
    A luminous and sweet one...
    Greetings from France,


  4. Omedeto Gozaimasu. Konnen mo yoroshiku onegaishimasu. ... Noriko
    Lovely part of Kobe. Hope to visit one day..

  5. The twinkle lights enhance the solid architecture of another era. A district like this gives hope in the turmoil of the modern world with so many disasters.
    Wishing you a healthy, happy and fulfilling New Year dear Yoko.

  6. This is a beautiful area of marvelous and tasteful buildings and your photographs were taken exquisitely!
    I love that you do not forget the people who are not so fortunate and have to deal with a lot more serious problems than to loose weight. :-)
    I wish you a very good 2014 with health for your soul and body and a lot of joy in your life. Hugs to you Yoko-san, Yael.

  7. Very nice post with all the lovely lights.

    wish you a great 2014.

  8. I, too, see many paradoxes in our world. The expensive brand name shops in the midst of human tragedy can seem superficial. At the same time, they in some small part prove mankind’s resilience, and strength and determination to not be defeated by the hardships life throws at us. I suppose priorities world over could be more centered towards caring and sharing of wealth. But I think that happens more quietly everywhere in the human heart.

    As always I hope each New Year is better than the last for us all.

  9. Very interesting post and beautiful pictures.
    Wish you a peace full and happy year 2014.
    Greetings from Germany

  10. Z jednej strony wspaniale sklepy i miły spacer po ulicach. Z drugiej Twoje myśli Twoje są przy ludziach, którzy przeżyli tragedię. Masz duże serce. Pozdrawiam.
    On the one hand, great shops and a nice walk in the streets. On the other your thoughts Your are the people who survived the tragedy. You have a big heart. Yours.

  11. The architecture and especially the street lamps are very reminiscent of parts of London. It's a strange world where wealth and poverty can exist at the same time, sometimes even in the same country. Visiting my mother is certainly not the route to a more slender waistline: she always seems to think that I have eaten nothing at all since the last time she saw me! Wishing you a happy and healthy New Year.

  12. you have a good soul, yoko. this is a beautiful metropolitan area, but i liked your ending thought.

  13. Dear Yoko,

    first of all a happy and prosperous New Year for you and your whole family!

    Your night shots of Daimaru Department Store and other street scenes at your town of birth Kobe could have been taken in an European city as well in my humble opinion. At a first glance especially the building with the arcades is of a very European style. But the following photos with the huge and impressive brand shops I know from a stroll through Ginza street at Ginza / Tokyo - most of the Japanese (and rich Korean, Chinese and Russian) ladies are really addicted the big fashion and luxury brands as far as I was able to see, especially in the metropolitan areas.
    In stark contrast to this world are your thoughts to the world of misery - thanks a lot for this mental leap, Yoko. It really helps us to see what is really important in real life - peace, health, education and a certain level of prosperity.

    Thanks a lot for your wonderful shots and thoughts at the beginning of 2014!


  14. Vilken pampig byggnad du visar det är så vackert i stora städer med sina varuhus där man kan strosa runt och hitta mycket skoj.Önskar dig ett härligt år med många nya och trevliga upplevelser.
    Kram Meta in Sweden

  15. Dear Yoko - some wonderful architecture in the Former Foreign Settlement of Kobe with some serious, sophisticated, shopping there too.
    I share your thoughts about the future in 2014 - for many life is very difficult struggling to make ends meet, coping with the consequences of fighting, and the tragedies brought about by natural disasters.

  16. Αγαπημένη μου Yoko
    Συγνώμη που άργησα, αλλά είχα τα παιδιά και την εγγονή μου, όλες τις γιορτές.
    Τι υπέροχες φωτογραφίες και από την Osaka, τι πλούσια εμπορικά κέντρα με εξαιρετικό διάκοσμο και φώτα!
    Οι βαθύτερες σκέψεις σου, είναι και δικές μου.
    Και δεν είναι μόνον οι φυσικές καταστροφές, είναι και οι πόλεμοι και οι οικονομικοί πόλεμοι.
    Εύχομαι να είστε όλοι καλά στην οικογένεια σου!
    Σου στέλνω μια ζεστή αγκαλιά και σου εύχομαι μια ευτυχισμένη χρονιά, με υγεία και πραγματοποίηση των ονείρων σου!
    Πολλά φιλιά

  17. It is striking how European the buildings look. I, too, am often struck by the excesses of modern society - Prada bags that cost more than some people earn in a year etc. So many people lead such difficult lives - whether from poverty or disasters. We cannot stop the natural disasters, but surely people can try to stop the human made disasters and think about the future instead of personal greed.

  18. Wow, cool post ! Beautiful place !
    Wishing you too a peaceful, happy and prosperous new year filled with lots of fun, laughter and success.
    Looking forward to your visit and comments in my blogs :)

  19. 明けましておめでとうございます。年に何度か訪れる神戸ですが、(わたしは港と元町が多いです)新年には行ったことがないので新鮮なポストです。本当に意志と努力の結晶の復興の成果には目を見張るものがあります。一方失われたものもあまりに大きいですね。今年は世界で人災、天災の少ない年であることを願います。

  20. Hello Yoko, Happy New Year to you and your Family! The architectural shots show the grandeur of the buildings. When I visited Kobe in the mid-80's it seemed like a small town. I must not have seen this portion! I do love the magical city lights. In the midst of plenty, it's good to remember that many have much less. I hope your mother is doing much better.

  21. So not everyone has forgotten about Fukushima. Your story and pictures reminds me of a children's story, "Tea with Milk". (There's now an even cheaper Kindle version.)

    1. Like many other Japanese including my friends and families, Fukushima is always in my prayers and thoughts and especially when I’m happy, I’m very thankful and at the same time think about Fukushima. Additional man-made nuclear accident made it much harder for Fukushima to get revived than Kobe. Thank you for the introduction of an interesting book. Nowadays “matcha latte (green tea latte)” is very popular.

  22. The building is majestic in posh surroundings. Sometimes it does seem so unfair when we reflect on the disparities that is happening around the globe, but this is life. There should be stronger political will and better vision from the local champions/ politicians for a more equitable society.

  23. What pretty lights!

  24. I could recognize many brands there. This area looks very high-end and upscale. Still, I like it. That classic vibe and together with the lights of the new year, it makes for a nice evening stroll. I love your closing thoughts, Yoko - what a wonderful way to ring in the new year: if we all could take our mind away from all the blitz around and take a moment to ponder on such warm facets of life, the world would truly be a beautiful place to live in.

    Wish you and your family a year full of joys and smiles ahead, dear Yoko.

  25. Yokoさん 新年おめでとうございます。 すっかりご挨拶がおそくなりました。
     今回は神戸の居留地、前回は大阪駅。 ライトが灯り始める前後の時間は都会の景観を 撮るのにふさわしく最適な時間ですね。
     年末年始の冬の街角で、人々の どことなくうきうきした表情や足取りをカメラで追われた洋子さん。その姿も楽しそうに想えます。

  26. おめでとうございます。今年も宜しくおねがいします。あの大地震から、神戸は復活しました。イルミネーションが、しゃれてますね。7枚目、どこか外国のような雰囲気です。大丸といえば、心斎橋のも、内部のデコレーションが、洋風ですね。

  27. 明けましておめでとうございます。本年もよろしくお願いいたします!!
    居留地、ステキですね。写真、どれも色がきれいでステキです。 建物のある場所は居留地のどこかだいたいわかるのですが、Genius Galleryもやはり居留地ですか? 教えていただければ嬉しいのですが。、

    1. こちらこそ、今年もよろしくお願いいたします。Genius Galleryは旧居留地内のビルで、「33番 旧居留地」の案内があります。土地の販売当時のブロック数が番地になっています。建物は新しいようですが、オリジナルの情報が見当たりません。14番目の写真でBEAMS Houseの右奥に見える青い箱のようなビルです。

  28. Lovely sharing of Kobe! I'm surprised to see nice X'mas lightings in Kobe. I was a bit disappointed when there wasn't much in Tokyo when I was there last year. Dropping by to wish you Happy New Year! xoxo

  29. Dear Yoko, it is great to hear from you in the new-born year. Thank you for a very interesting and informative story. Just as I was about to ask what Former Foreign Settlement is, you explained it at the right time. As for your contemplation at the end, you actually rendered mine during recent vacation. I was looking at miriads of lights in beautifully illuminated cities and thought: It looks as if the whole world is one happy place where troubles do not exist. It is probably right to create this festive atmosphere. But would it be less right to spend half of the sums for a good cause? I'd attach similar pictures as an argument, if it were possible on blogger.
    Hearty wishes to you!
    PS. Never tried green tea with milk. Does not sound tempting!

  30. I wish you happiness and good health in this New Year. You have posted such lovely photographs of Kobe, I wish I could come shopping with you! I am hoping for a year of peace, and with no more of those terrible disasters caused by weather, and by war. My thoughts are with the people of the Philipines and also with the people in Fukushima.
    Happy days to you and your family.

  31.  こんばんは。とてもおしゃれな街ですね。写真がとても素敵です。光が溢れています。私もいつか行ってみたいです。Yoko様にとって本年も良い年でありますよう願ってます。

  32. This store is's very interesting to see your sparkling images......thank you Yoko!

    All best wishes for the New Year,
    and happy blogging!

  33. Dear Yoko,

    It was wonderful to hear from you again and we wish you also, a healthy, happy and prosperous New Year filled with the things that make your heart sing.

    Your photos, as usual, are outstanding. You've made this place come alive! I appreciate the work you put into this post with the very sharp pictures and the detailed comments. I have an urge to fly over and visit asap! Perhaps the owners would purchase your photos for a new advertising brochure. They'd be foolish not to do so. You mentioned the horrors or war, and I was struck with the thought of what humans can do if they leave off building weapons of destruction and direct their efforts toward building beautiful structures and livable cities and saving the environment, and taking care of those who suffer.

    Thank you for sharing and our best wishes, always!

  34. Beautiful photos, Yoko!
    I felt like I was there!
    Cheers from Brazil,


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