Yesterday, Yasu and I headed for Kobe to see the same Luminarie we saw there three years ago. It still means waiting in line for an insane amount of time (even on a Monday evening) and it still means you get to see thousands of pretty lights. I love lights, especially colored ones arranged in beautiful patterns at Christmas time.
The Luminarie is a light festival held every December. It began in 1995 and commemorates the Great Hanshin Earthquake. That earthquake struck Kobe on January 17th 1995, at 5:46 A.M. and measured 7.3 on the Richter scale. More than 6000 people died and it is listed in the Guinness Book of Records as the “costliest natural disaster to befall any one country”. Yasu barely escaped from being crushed by a bookcase in his house during that earthquake.
These lights were donated by the Italian Government, and are kept up for about two weeks and only turned on for a few hours each evening. Each light is individually hand-painted, probably by some Italians because Yasu told me they fly over here every year to get the lights ready for the Luminarie. Major streets in the vicinity are closed to auto traffic during these hours to allow pedestrians to fill the streets, wait for at least an hour and then finally enjoy the beautiful lights.
After that we went to Ninniku-ya, a garlic restaurant, also something we did in the winter of 2004. It was the first restaurant I visited during my first time in Japan, and which made me realize that I actually don’t hate Japanese food. Which, back then, surprised me tremendously, of course by now I know that I have no problem with Japanese food at all. Not even when it looks like this:
But this is a special restaurant, because every dish a big amount of garlic in it! And I love garlic, so there’s nothing wrong with that! Just make sure that the person you want to kiss later comes to dinner with you, so there’ll be no smelly problems. They even serve fried cloves of garlic, and it’s good, we ordered it twice!
We told them that we were there to celebrate Yasu’s birthday (which is also the same as in 2004), because then they give you free stuff like drinks and desert, which are just a few of those things on the menu that don’t contain garlic… I think.