A final thought from Hiroshima from my recent two day trip.
With two days to spend in Hiroshima my girlfriend and I used one day on Miyajima and the other visiting the A-bomb museum and the various memorials in Peace Park. All of which I have written about before.
The night of our second day we wandered down Peace Boulevard to look at the “Dreamination”. Basically Christmas Lights.
I don’t know about other countries but in Britain we have a big tradition of municipal Christmas lights. Every December cities up and down the U.K. tart themselves up in illuminations and then hold a fairly naff ceremony with a local celebrity to switch them on. Thus done the cities are transformed into a festive winter wonderland. Well not quite, but it would take a scrooge of epic proportions to object to Christmas Lights. For one month of the year the same old streets and tired shop fronts transform into something a little bit more interesting and fun to look at. The whole experience of just being in a city is subtly altered for the better.
I have fond memories as kid of being driven around the city centre with my Mum, Dad and two brothers with Christmas music playing on the radio looking at all the lights and pointing out all the strange shapes they were in. Snowmen, stockings, wreaths, presents, bears, Santas, candy canes and most memorably in Leeds the Santa parachuting down the side of an office building.
The “Dreamination” reminded me a lot of Christmas lights except that
a) They had nothing overtly to do with Christmas
b) They were up in November
c) They were confined to one (admittedly rather long) street
d) They were on a pedestrian level and pedestrians could interact with them rather than merely looking at them.
a) Can’t be helped considering Japan doesn’t officially celebrate Christmas, b) is a sad indictment of our consumer capitalist society but c) I am prepared to forgive because d) more than makes up for it.
Strolling through the lights is a much different experience to driving past them looking up. Strolling arm in arm with your long time girlfriend in weather that is cold but not too cold and looking at and playing with lights is another experience altogether and a very fine one at that.
Most of the lights were still there to be gazed at, obviously but a few of them provided an opportunity to get inside the lights and pose for photos.
Most notably this carousel.
And this train which I dubbed the Galaxy Express 999.
One day I need to see that anime, if only because at karaoke with my fellow teachers one of my JTE’s sang it once.
My favourite of the lights was this awesome looking phoenix. Not very Christmassy but very cool.
Incidentally Kobe also has it’s own Christmas lights-esque festival. The Luminare. I wrote about it last year. The Luminare has its appeal but frankly I’m much more a fan of the idiosyncratic but varied lights of the Dreamination than the beautiful but repetitive lights of the Luminare.