Kobe Luminarie Message Card

December 14, 2009

Yukari Toi / Senior at Kobe Design University (at the time)

Text by Kei Kato

Kobe Luminarie · Message card

  • Senior student of Visual Design Program at Kobe Design University at the time

We need to learn more about the earthquake

I heard about the Luminarie project from Kobe Design University and decided to participate because I had a desire to merchandise what I designed. I did not know that Luminarie was an event for earthquake reconstruction and prayer until I joined the project. I thought I should learn about the disaster since I was participating in the project, so I started reading books about the earthquake, asking my parents about it and visited the Great Hanshin-Awaji Earthquake Memorial Disaster Reduction and Human Renovation Institution.


Luminarie should be for the bereaved

My first intention was to do something for the victims’ families, but I kept thinking about selling the merchandise while participating in Luminarie in 2008. One day during the exhibition I saw someone standing alone silently holding a picture of a deceased, and realized that this event is supposed to be for the victims’ families. I started to question about the way it had become commercialized and strongly wished to do something for the bereaved.


Think about what the earthquake means to me

I participated the “1.17 Gathering” in 2008 with the desire to experience the emotions of the victims’ families because I felt I must know all about the earthquake. But I ended up feeling guilty for being there among the people who had lost their loved ones to the earthquake, since I, myself, suffered little from it.I thought I might understand their grief by being there but I could not understand nor even discuss their feelings.That troubled me a lot until I came to the realization that there was no need for me to experience their feelings but to keep thinking about my own experiences of the earthquake.

The following year, in June 2009, I participated in NHK’s event called “What can young people do about the earthquake?”During the numerous meetings for the event, I came to question their opinion that “we must not forget the earthquake.” “Why should we not forget? Wouldn’t many wish to forget?” I thought, but could not ask anyone. About a half year later, I attended the second event of the same series as an audience member.Hearing the bereaved say “We can go on living without thinking about it all the time because others are remembering it,” I realized that some people are salvaged just by us not forgetting the disaster. From this experience, I designed a card with the time and date engraved, to help us remember the disaster.


The Making of 1000 cards

It took some time to come up with the actual design, but with some seminar students’ and professors’ advice, I created a card that uses light to convey messages.The paper used for the cards was made by people with disabilities, each handcrafted.I became sick right before the actual day, but managed to complete 1000 cards with the help of 10 friends, mainly from my seminar.


Meeting someone who anticipated my card

Maybe because it was advertised in The Kobe Shinbun (newspaper), all 1000 cards were distributed. 100 cards were gone in 10 minutes with people commenting, “thank you,” “beautiful” and “I saw it in the newspaper” etc. The most memorable was an old lady arriving early, tightly holding The Kobe Shinbun in her hands and waiting two hours for the distribution to start.While in production, I had worries about people’s reaction to a young student’s idea and that this may somehow be inconsiderate to the bereaved, but handing out the first card to the old lady and talking to her assured me that it was a good idea.


An anchor for myself

I used to think that I couldn’t do anything about the disaster and that it didn’t have anything to do with me. But meeting the lady who waited for my card, and the fact there were people who thanked me and needed it, gave me confidence.That experience anchors me to this day.

I think there are many people out there who want to do something without knowing what to do.I was one of them.Seeing the Great East Japan Earthquake on TV, I think it is meaningful enough to not forget the terror of earthquakes that instantly take away many lives, and try to live your life to the fullest for the sake of all the lost lives.

Initial research


December 14, 2009

History and objectives

For the hopes of reconstruction and prayers


Victims of the disaster


Going back to the true meanings of Luminarie (prayers and reconstruction)

Founder / Organizer

Yukari Toii (at the time: Kobe Design University / Visual Design Program)


Luminarie (Kobe East Park)


6-4-1 Kanocho, Chuo-ku, Kobe-shi


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