Illuminating the Holiday Season in Japan
In Japan, Christmas lights, called “illuminations” (イルミネーション) in Japanese, go up as early as mid-November and can remain on display as late as March. Businesses, main streets and big parks go all-out with spectacular LED reveries and exquisitely decorated Christmas trees for passersby to experience. The illuminations play an important role in creating the festive and romantic mood of winter in Japan and they are more astounding with each passing year.
The Kobe Luminarie (神戸ルミナリエ) in Kobe, Japan, is one of the most striking displays every year. Kobe hosted its first illumination festival in December of 1995 in memory of the Great Hanshin Earthquake which struck the region in January of the same year. The Italian-designed illuminations were donated by the government of Italy, and the soft, solemn glow of the hand-painted lights became a symbol of remembrance and hope. The Kobe Luminarie was originally meant to be a one-time event but, with the strong request from local citizens, it has become an annual event now its 19th year.
Want to see more illuminations? Visit the location pages below to view photos and videos from the best Christmas lights in Japan this year:
Instagrammers Search for the Loch Ness Monster
Tucked away in the Scottish Highlands is what may be the world’s most famous lake: Loch Ness. Although notably deep, wide and quite scenic, the loch is best known as the home of the Loch Ness Monster. “Nessie” was first brought to the world’s attention in 1933 after two alleged sightings and a few prominent photographs. The monster is formally described as a cryptid, a creature or plant whose existence has been suggested but is not recognized by scientific consensus.
Curious Instagrammers have made their way to northern Scotland to hunt for Nessie, some choosing to cruise the lake in hopes of a sighting. To view more photos and videos of Loch Ness and search for Nessie yourself, visit the Loch Ness and Urquhart Castle location pages.