After spending the day at Hieizan Enryaku-ji I headed to Kobe to see the Kobe Luminarie. I had been to Kobe before but never had the chance to see the Luminarie so I was excited to be able to do it on this trip.
The Kobe Luminarie is a light festival that began in 1995 as a way to commemorate those lost in the Great Hanshin earthquake. Held for a few weeks every December, the Luminarie has now also come to celebrate the rebuilding of Kobe.
I had heard from a friend who went last year that the line to get to the Luminarie was very long so I thought that if I arrived at 5 when the lights first turned on the wait would be a little less. Unfortunately, I was wrong and it took an hour to make it through the line. Luckily for me I had a companion while I was waiting. When I left the Sannomiya train station and was trying to figure out how to get to the Luminarie I asked a girl for help and she said that she would just show me since she wanted to go, too. Unfortunately, my Japanese is not as good as I would like so our conversation was pretty superficial but I learned that Satomi-san lived in Kobe and was in school studying how to make Japanese sweets. She even gave me a sample sweet that she had made that day in class which was very kind. It was fun to practice my Japanese and made the wait seem much shorter.
Finally arriving at the lights was impressive. Huge illuminated gates arch over the street so it looks like you are walking through a tunnel of lights. The end of the street opens up to a plaza which is decorated with more lights and is ringed by yatai (Japanese food stalls). Normally I love eating at yatai, but I was in Kobe so I had other plans. After thanking Satomi-san and saying goodbye I headed to Moriya for a dinner of Kobe beef.
I'm the kind of girl who buys her clothes on eBay and doesn't hesitate to stay in hostels to save money, but I love food and am willing to splurge for nice meals. I chose Moriya because I had read some good reviews and it was conveniently located by Sannomiya station. I got a 130g A5 Kobe tenderloin that included a crab appetizer. The server brought out the steak to show me before it was cooked and then I got to watch the chef prepare it. It was absolutely delicious and made for a wonderful cap on the end of my day.