Tsuruga, which is in the middle of Fukui Prefecture, is often called a railroad and port city.
In 1902 the direct route between Tsuruga and Vladivostok was opened, and in 1912 the railroad between Tsuruga and Tokyo was built. From 1912 to 1941 this route (which went from Tokyo to Tsuruga to Vladivostok to European countries like France, Poland, and Lithuania, and which made use of both Tsuruga Port and the Trans-Siberian Railroad) was the shortest one between Japan and Europe.
In 1940 some Jewish refugees landed in Tsuruga using this route. (If you want to know more about this event, read my previous post on the topic. (Tsuruga Port, Fumi Matsuzawa: a heroine, and Chiune Sugihara: a hero.))
Tsuruga Port Station, which was once used as a hub on this route, was rebuilt in 1999 as a museum.
I recently went to Tsuruga Port to see Miraie, an illumination event. It took place in front of the Port of Humanity Tsuruga Museum. It takes about 30 minutes to walk there from JR Tsuruga Station.
Miraie has taken place every winter since 2014. In 2018 about 56,000 people went to the event. Miraie means “to the future,” and it also has some other connotations. For example, it also suggests offering rays of hope to illuminate the future, thinking about the future of Tsuruga, and leaping into the future.
At this year’s event about 550,000 LED lights were used. A lot of the citizens of Tsuruga (including some students) helped set these up. This year the event lasted from November 3rd to December 25th, and people were able to watch it from 6 to 9 or 10 p.m. for free.(※Miraie lasts from November 3rd to December 25th, from 6 to 9 p.m. in 2022. In November, Miraie takes place only on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. In December, Miraie takes place every day.)
As I wrote earlier, in 1920 some Polish orphans reached Tsuruga Port, and in 1940 some Jewish refugees did. At the Port of Humanity Tsuruga Museum people are able to learn about these things by looking at pictures and panels and by watching videos.
At the event some of the lighted objects had to do with the history of Tsuruga. If you first go to the Port of Humanity Tsuruga Museum and learn about the history of the area, you enjoy the event even more.
I had some time before the beginning of the event, so I walked around Tsuruga Port and enjoyed the scenery.
The sky was getting dark, and a lot of people were at the venue waiting for the illumination to start. At 6 p.m. all the LED lights came on, and a lot of people shouted for joy. The dark place became colorful in a flash.
There was a fence between the sea and the land, and it was also decorated with lights. The curved fence with its purple lights was breathtakingly beautiful.
At the center of the venue there was an illumination of a steam locomotive. (As previously mentioned, there was once a railroad between Tokyo and Tsuruga, and the latter was the key place for the Japan–Europe route. The railroad and the port are important to Tsuruga.)
The lawn areas were decorated with blue LED lights that represented the sea.
A clock tower was covered with yellow lights that gave it the shape of a cone.
The most popular illumination was a 70-meter tunnel with pink LED lights that represented a row of cherry trees. People were able to sit inside the tunnel and view the illumination, and a lot of them took pictures inside. The pink lights made people cheerful, and seeing cherry blossoms in winter was nice. Speaking of rows of cherry trees, a real cherry blossom tunnel develops every spring in the city of Fukui. If you want to know about this, read my previous post on the topic. (Cherry Blossoms along the Asuwa River: Asuwa Sakura Tunnel)
It seemed to me that ports are good places for illuminations. The sea becomes very dark at night, and this darkness sets off the colorful lights.
If you’re interested in this kind of event and want to know when the next one will take place, ask me. I’ll look into it and tell you.
The official website of Miraie
The official website of Tsuruga City