Half a million light bulbs are turned on at the start of the Kobe Luminarie on Dec. 6. (Video footage by Takaharu Yagi)

KOBE--The 25th anniversary of the Kobe Luminarie began here on Dec. 6 in and around the former foreign settlement in Chuo Ward.

The annual winter illumination event began in December 1995 to remember the victims of the Great Hanshin Earthquake, which occurred in January that year.

About 3.43 million people are expected to visit the nightly event, which continues until Dec. 15.

Participants observed a moment of silence during the ceremony to turn on the half million or so light bulbs that were set up in the main venue.

A choir of Kobe elementary school children sang "Shiawase Hakoberuyoni" (So that we can carry happiness), which has been sung as a prayer for Kobe's reconstruction.

Cheers and applause rang out when the lights were turned on.